Biography of P. B. Shelley

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Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

Birth- P. B. Shelley was born on 4 August 1792 at Field Place near Horsham, England.

Father and Mother- His father’s name was Timothy Shelley and his mother’s name was Elizabeth Shelley. His father was the MP for the New Shoreham. His mother was a landowner at Sussex. He had four younger sisters and one younger brother. His cousin Thomas Medwin wrote P.B. Shelley’s biography ‘The Life of Percy Bysshe Shelley’.

Early Life and Education- He attended Sion House Academy from 1802-1804 and in 1804 he joined Eton College. He fared poorly and was subjected to daily mob torment by older boys, who aptly called these incidents ‘Shelley-baits’ In 1810 he entered University College, Oxford. It was considered that he attended only one lecture at Oxford, but read sixteen hours a day. After a year he was expelled from the college along with his friend Thomas Jefferson Hogg due to suspect authorship of a pamphlet ‘The Necessity of Atheism’. It was published anonymously. This led to a complete break between Shelley and his father.

Matrimonial (वैवाहिक) Life- He eloped with 16 years old Harriet Westbrook (British Author) to Scotland in 1811. He was of 19 at that time. She had been writing passionate letters to Shelley threatening to kill herself because of unhappiness at the school and at home. Shelley had a family problem also. He failed in romance with his cousin Harriet Grove, impulsively decided to rescue Westbrook, and eloped with her. They married on August 28, 1811, and had two children. After marriage, they went to Ireland. Shelley soon became interested in Elizabeth Hitchener. She was schoolteacher. She inspired his first major poem, Queen Mab. Shelley met his hero William Godwin, the author of Political Justice, and fell in love with his daughter Mary. They eloped to Switzerland in July 1814.

In 1815, Shelley returned to England and settled near London. In December 1816, his first wife Harriet Shelley committed suicide in a river in 1816 when she was of 21 and her body was recovered from the Sarpentine River. Shelley and Mary Godwin officially were married and had a son in the same year (1816).

Children- Percy Florence Shelley (son), William Shelley (son), Clara Everina Shelley (daughter), and Ianthe Eliza Shelley.

First Publication- Gothic Novel, Zastrozzi (1810)

Life History- After the death of his first wife Shelley continued to be involved in politics and 1817 wrote the pamphlet A Proposal for Putting Reform to the Vote Throughout the United Kingdom. In the same year (1817) Shelley wrote his long narrative poem ‘Laon and Cythna’ but was withdrawn after few copies were published because of incest (व्यभिचार, अनाचार), It was considered as attack on religion. It was edited and reissued as ‘The Revolt of Islam’ in 1818.

His wife Mary Shelley wrote a novel ‘Frankenstein’ or ‘The Modern Prometheus’ published on January 1, 1818. He wrote ‘Preface’ to his wife’s novel ‘Frankenstein’. Around 1820, Shelley settled in Pisa, Italy. He met Lord Byron, Leigh Hunt, Edward Trelawny, Edward Williams, Thomas Jefferson Hogg, Thomas Love Peacock, Mary Shelley (wife) and John Keats and included the visionary poets in his literary circle. Shelley wrote a pastoral elegy on the death of John Keats ‘Adonais’ in 1821. After one year later of John Keats’ death, Shelley died on July 8, 1822. Shelley and Edward Williams were going on a voyage from Leghorn to Lerici, Italy and both of them drowned during this journey.

Best Known For- Shelley was best known for his classic poems-

*        Ozymandias

*        Ode to the West Wind

*        To a Skylark

*        Music, When Soft Voices Die

*        The Cloud

*        The Masque of Anarchy

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