The Poetical Works of Coleridge, Shelley, and Keats
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About the Author
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) was an English Romantic poet. Born into a prominent political family, Shelley enjoyed a quiet and happy childhood in West Sussex, developing a passion for nature and literature at a young age. He struggled in school, however, and was known by his colleagues at Eton College and University College, Oxford as an outsider and eccentric who spent more time acquainting himself with radical politics and the occult than with the requirements of academia. During his time at Oxford, he began his literary career in earnest, publishing Original Poetry by Victor and Cazire (1810) and St. Irvine; or, The Rosicrucian: A Romance (1811) In 1811, he married Harriet Westbrook, with whom he lived an itinerant lifestyle while pursuing affairs with other women. Through the poet Robert Southey, he fell under the influence of political philosopher William Godwin, whose daughter Mary soon fell in love with the precocious young poet. In the summer of 1814, Shelley eloped to France with Mary and her stepsister Claire Claremont, travelling to Holland, Germany, and Switzerland before returning to England in the fall. Desperately broke, Shelley struggled to provide for Mary through several pregnancies while balancing his financial obligations to Godwin, Harriet, and his own father. In 1816, Percy and Mary accepted an invitation to join Claremont and Lord Byron in Europe, spending a summer in Switzerland at a house on Lake Geneva. In 1818, following several years of unhappy life in England, the Shelleys--now married--moved to Italy, where Percy worked on The Masque of Anarchy (1819), Prometheus Unbound (1820), and Adonais (1821), now considered some of his most important works. In July of 1822, Shelley set sail on the Don Juan and was lost in a storm only hours later. His death at the age of 29 was met with despair and contempt throughout England and Europe, and he is now considered a leading poet and radical thinker of the Romantic era.