...[an] exceptional biography ... This is a superb book, more tangly, obsessive and excitable than previous biographies, and in that sense more in tune with its subject. It is packed with interest from the early days in Bath with his mother to the last debt-ridden days in Edinburgh.
...[an] entertaining, intellectually brilliant biography ... Ms. Wilson’s biography, although chronological in presentation, isn’t a conventional cradle-to-graver. One of her most attractive qualities as a writer is a sensible disavowal of oracular omniscience ... [the] account of De Quincey’s relationship with Wordsworth enriches established facts with a sympathetic reconstruction of the poet’s effect on the young writer.
Guilty Thing captures that propulsion that drives De Quincey’s greatest writings ... But that’s not to say that Guilty Thing doesn’t also ably cover De Quincey’s life; nor does it lack the small nuggets of joy one expects from a good biography...But mostly Wilson’s book seeks to capture the rush and urgency of a life lived in extremis ... Yoking De Quincey’s life to Wordsworth’s Prelude has its weaknesses.