Wednesday, August 04, 2010

'Mad Shelley' 1792 Percy Bysshe Shelley ('Mad Shelley'; d. 1822), English poet. Percy Shelley started life in a favoured position in British society, as his father was a baronet. At Sion House Academy the lad was a hell raiser, and he was expelled from Oxford for a booklet he wrote urging "the necessity of atheism", whereupon his father cut off his money. Shelley then lived on secret remittances from his sisters.

The young poet had such an active imagination that, although he detested falsehood, he could not give the same account of an event to two people.

After eloping to Scotland with Harriet Westbrook he became interested in the ideas of the radical/anarchist philosopher William Godwin. He began to visit Godwin's house and fell in love with Mary Godwin (later called Mary Shelley), the sixteen-year-old daughter of Godwin by his first wife, the feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft, who had written A Vindication of the Rights of Women and had died eight days after Mary's birth in 1797. (Mary wrote Frankenstein while with her husband, Lord Byron and others in Switzerland.)

Shelley drowned in a squall (July 8, 1822) while on a boat with his friend Captain Williams on the Bay of Spezzia, Italy. Byron, Leigh Hunt and Trelawny burned his body as required by quarantine law ...

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