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Percy Bysshe Shelley

Biographical Details: – Percy Bysshe Shelley was born on August 4, 1792, in West Sussex, England. – He was the eldest son of Sir Timothy […]

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Biographical Details:
– Percy Bysshe Shelley was born on August 4, 1792, in West Sussex, England.
– He was the eldest son of Sir Timothy Shelley and Elizabeth Pilfold, with four sisters and one brother.
– Shelley’s childhood was sheltered and happy, fostering his interests in science, literature, and languages.
– His education included attending schools like Syon House Academy and Eton College, where he showed talent in languages and science.
– Shelley was expelled from Oxford in 1811 for publishing atheistic pamphlets.

Marriages and Relationships:
– Shelley married Harriet Westbrook in 1811 after meeting her in late 1810 and sharing radical ideas.
– He later eloped with Mary Godwin, daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin, in 1814.
– Shelley’s relationships with Harriet and Mary were complicated, leading to marital struggles and infatuations.

Literary and Political Contributions:
– Percy Bysshe Shelley is considered one of the major English Romantic poets, known for works like ‘Ozymandias’ and ‘Ode to the West Wind’.
– He explored themes of skepticism, idealism, and materialism in his poetry and also wrote prose fiction, essays, and political ballads.
– Shelley engaged in political activities, advocating for Catholic emancipation and facing government surveillance.

Challenges and Struggles:
– Shelley faced financial difficulties, mounting debts, and strained relationships, leading to frequent moves to evade creditors.
– His ideals of communal living and shared property were reflected in his works, amidst rumors of selling his daughters due to financial strain.

Legacy and Influence:
– Shelley inherited the Shelley fortune and baronetcy, settling with his father in 1816.
– His literary works gained critical acclaim posthumously for their poetic imagery and genre mastery, influencing subsequent generations of writers.
– Shelley’s personal life, relationships, and political activities continue to be studied for their impact on his works and the Romantic era.

Percy Bysshe Shelley (Wikipedia)

Percy Bysshe Shelley (/bɪʃ/ BISH; 4 August 1792 – 8 July 1822) was a British writer who is considered as one of the major English Romantic poets. A radical in his poetry as well as in his political and social views, Shelley did not achieve fame during his lifetime, but recognition of his achievements in poetry grew steadily following his death, and he became an important influence on subsequent generations of poets, including Robert Browning, Algernon Charles Swinburne, Thomas Hardy, and W. B. Yeats. American literary critic Harold Bloom describes him as "a superb craftsman, a lyric poet without rival, and surely one of the most advanced sceptical intellects ever to write a poem."

Percy Bysshe Shelley
Portrait by Alfred Clint, 1819
Portrait by Alfred Clint, 1819
Born(1792-08-04)4 August 1792
Field Place, Warnham, West Sussex, England
Died8 July 1822(1822-07-08) (aged 29)
Gulf of La Spezia, Kingdom of Sardinia
  • Poet
  • dramatist
  • essayist
  • novelist
Alma materUniversity College, Oxford
Literary movementRomanticism
  • Harriet Westbrook
    (m. 1811; died 1816)
  • (m. 1816)
Children6, including Sir Percy, 3rd Baronet
ParentsTimothy Shelley (father)

Shelley's reputation fluctuated during the 20th century, but in recent decades he has achieved increasing critical acclaim for the sweeping momentum of his poetic imagery, his mastery of genres and verse forms, and the complex interplay of sceptical, idealist, and materialist ideas in his work. Among his best-known works are "Ozymandias" (1818), "Ode to the West Wind" (1819), "To a Skylark" (1820), "Adonais" (1821), the philosophical essay "The Necessity of Atheism" (1811), which his friend T. J. Hogg may have co-authored, and the political ballad "The Mask of Anarchy" (1819). His other major works include the verse dramas The Cenci (1819), Prometheus Unbound (1820) and Hellas (1822), and the long narrative poems Alastor, or The Spirit of Solitude (1815), Julian and Maddalo (1819), Adonais (1821), and The Triumph of Life (1822).

Shelley also wrote prose fiction and a quantity of essays on political, social, and philosophical issues. Much of this poetry and prose was not published in his lifetime, or only published in expurgated form, due to the risk of prosecution for political and religious libel. From the 1820s, his poems and political and ethical writings became popular in Owenist, Chartist, and radical political circles, and later drew admirers as diverse as Karl Marx, Mahatma Gandhi, and George Bernard Shaw.

Shelley's life was marked by family crises, ill health, and a backlash against his atheism, political views, and defiance of social conventions. He went into permanent self-exile in Italy in 1818 and over the next four years produced what Zachary Leader and Michael O'Neill call "some of the finest poetry of the Romantic period". His second wife, Mary Shelley, was the author of Frankenstein. He died in a boating accident in 1822 at age 29.

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