Fun Facts Friday: Percy Bysshe Shelley

August 4, 2023

Percy Bysshe Shelley (4 August, 1792 – 8 July 1822) was a radical English Romantic poet. Even though he was never famous during his lifetime, Mr. Shelley got steady growing recognition posthumously.

Fun Facts Friday: Percy Bysshe Shelley
Books by Percy Bysshe Shelley*

Fun Facts about Percy Bysshe Shelley:

  1. Percy Bysshe Shelley was born at Place Field , Wamham, West Sussex, England. This father, Sir Timothy Shelley, was a Whig member of Parliament. His mother, Elizabeth Pilfold, was the daughter of a successful butcher.
  2. Percy Shelley was the oldest of six children, four sisters, Elizabeth, Mary, Margaret, and Hellen, and one brother, John. He was lucky enough to be close to his mother and sisters and enjoyed a happy early childhood of hunting, fishing, and riding.
  3. At age six, when he started school, he was recognized for his excellent memory and gift for languages. However, continuing onto the Syon House Academy, the young man was bullied and responded with violence. This is when he started having nightmares, sleepwalking, and hallucinations, ailments that affected him his whole life.
  4. The reason for the bullying: refusal to participate in traditional activities, and pranks. The young man refused to be a servant for older boys, for example, and his pranks were the kind that, in today’s world, would get him in legal jeopardy, such as blowing up a tree with gunpowder.
  5. He entered Oxford as a published writer, but couldn’t help himself to ruffle some feathers there as well. One of the essays he wrote in Oxford dealt with atheism. In the essay, titled “The Necessity of Atheism”, the young man wrote that beliefs are involuntary and it’s unfair to persecute them.
    Together with his lifelong friend, Thomas Jefferson Hogg, they published the pamphlet and send it to the conservative Oxford dons. The title was meant to antagonize them since the content is a more tame mediation on the nature of belief. The pamphlet did, as expected, manage to make the dons angry and expelled both students.
  6. Oxford, however, was not the only institution young Percy Shelley dared to go against. He fell in love with a younger woman, Harriet Westbrook. His father told him to stop seeing her, but Shelley took her to Scotland and eloped. The event didn’t have a fairytale ending, Shelly got financially cut off and refused to host the newlyweds. Harriet’s sister, Eliza, moved in with the happy couple to the groom’s dismay.
    This might not seem like a big deal, but as the oldest son Percy Shelley was in line to inherit a considerable estate and a sit in Parliament.
  7. In 1812, Shelley finally met William Godwin, his political godfather. He became a frequent visitor in the Godwin household. Godwin’s wife, Mary Wollstonecraft, was a published author he admired, and the three Godwin daughters, Mary, Jane, and Fanny Imlay fell in love with him. He, on the other hand, fell in love with Mary and left Harriet, which completely shattered her.
    The two eloped and were ostracized by the Godwins and society.
  8. Percy Bysshe Shelley’s atheism cost him dearly. When Harriet passed away, the religious society he was a part of denied him custody of his own children because, in their eyes, he was an unfit parent. Charles and Ianthe were raised by foster parents instead of their own father.
  9. Shelley and his family left England to escape “tyranny civil and religious” to Italy. He accompanied Lord Byron’s daughter to her father. Many tragedies struck the family there, ill health, death of children, moving around a lot, and depression.
  10. Percy Bysshe Shelley and Edward Williams sailed Shelley’s new boat, the Don Juan, to Livorno in Italy to meet Leigh Hunt and Lord Byron to make business arrangements for a publication. When they said beck for Lerici the boat got lost in a storm and sunk. All three inexperienced sailors on board were lost.

Books by Percy Bysshe Shelley*

Zohar – Man of la Book
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account, the money is usually spent on books


Interesting Facts About Percy Bysshe Shelley |

Mad Facts About Percy Shelley, England’s Lost Poet | Facinate

Percy Bysshe Shelley | Poetry Foundation

Percy Bysshe Shelley | Wikipedia

Percy Bysshe Shelley: English poet | Britannica

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Fun Facts Friday: Percy Bysshe Shelley
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Fun Facts Friday: Percy Bysshe Shelley
Percy Bysshe Shelley (4 August, 1792 – 8 July 1822) was a radical English Romantic poet. Even though he was never famous during his lifetime, Mr. Shelley got steady growing recognition posthumously.
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Man of la Book - A Bookish Blog
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