Classic Poetry from Passions in Poetry
Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792 - 1822
English Romantic poet and essayist. Shelley's best-known works include his Prometheus Unbound (1819), a lyrical drama in which Shelley expounds the cause of an imaginative revolution, his atheistic poem Queen Mab (1821), his prose essay A Defence of Poetry (1840) and The Triumph of Life, left unfinished at Shelley's death. Many of Shelley's other works were written around 1820: these include The Mask of Anarchy (1820), the poem 'Ode to the West Wind' (1819), Peter Bell the Third (1819) and the political odes 'To Liberty' and 'To Naples' (both 1820). Other works include the unfinished novella The Assassins (1814), the essay A Philosophical View of Reform (1820), and a number of pamphlets on vegetarianism and political subjects - including his An Address to the Irish People (1812) and A Letter to Lord Ellenorough (1812) - as well as an early novel Zastrozzi: A Romance (1810).
Shelley, born the heir to rich estates and the son of an Member of Parliament, went to University College, Oxford in 1810, but in March of the following year he and a friend, Thomas Jefferson Hogg, were both expelled for the suspected authorship of a pamphlet entitled The Necessity of Atheism.
In 1811 he met and eloped to Edinburgh with Harriet Westbrook and, one year later, went with her and her older sister first to Dublin, then to Devon and North Wales, where they stayed for six months into 1813. However, by 1814, and with the birth of two children, their marriage had collapsed and Shelley eloped once again, this time with Mary Godwin.
Along with Mary's step-sister, the couple travelled to France, Switzerland and Germany before returning to London where he took a house with Mary on the edge of Great Windsor Park and wrote Alastor (1816), the poem that first brought him fame.
In 1816 Shelley spent the summer on Lake Geneva with Byron and Mary who had begun work on her Frankenstein. In the autumn of that year Harriet drowned herself in the Serpentine in Hyde Park and Shelley then married Mary and settled with her, in 1817, at Great Marlow, on the Thames. They later travelled to Italy, where Shelley wrote the sonnet Ozymandias (written 1818) and translated Plato's Symposium from the Greek. Shelley himself drowned in a sailing accident in 1822.