Percy Bysshe Shelley

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

Percy Bysshe Shelley, the scion of Sussex aristocracy, was born on 4 August 1792 at Field Place near Horshom in Sussex, England. . From an early age he showed an inclination towards radicalism and unconventionality. His father was to him a symbol of ‘forces of unreason’ from which he felt it his duty to redeem the world. In 1810 Shelley joined University College, Oxford from where he was expelled for preaching the philosophy of atheism. In the same year, Shelled married Harriet committed suicide in 1816. Shelley married Mary Godwin, author of Frankenstein and daughter of william Godwin, a political philosopher whose ideas had greatly influenced him and led him to write a philosophical poem, Queen Mab. Here he predicts the withering away of institutional religion and codified morality and return of man to his natural state of goodness and morality. In 1818, he permanently left England for Italy. On 8 July 1822 he was drowned when his boat was caught in a storm.

Shelley was the most radical and uncoventional of the Romantic poets. His poetry is an expression of his deep aversion to the established social and religious institutions.

For his flights of imagination he is perhaps the most romantic of all his contemporaries. His imagery tends to be abstract though highly passionate. F.R. Leavis remarks, perhaps justy, ‘that Shelley at his best and worst offers the emotion in itself, unattached, in the viod’ (Revaluations).