m. Oct 1791
m. 24 Mar 1814
Facts and Events
Percy Bysshe Shelley (; 4 August 17928 July 1822) was one of the major English Romantic poets and is critically regarded as among the finest lyric poets in the English language. Considered too radical in his poetry and his political and social views to achieve fame during his lifetime, recognition of his significance grew steadily following his death. Percy Shelley was a key member of a close circle of visionary poets and writers that included Lord Byron; Leigh Hunt; Thomas Love Peacock; and his second wife, Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein.
Shelley is perhaps best known for such classic poems as Ozymandias, Ode to the West Wind, To a Skylark, Music, When Soft Voices Die, The Cloud and The Masque of Anarchy, which are among the most popular and critically acclaimed poems in the English language. His major works, however, are long visionary poems that include Queen Mab (later reworked as The Daemon of the World), Alastor, The Revolt of Islam, Adonaïs, the unfinished work The Triumph of Life; and the visionary verse dramas The Cenci (1819) and Prometheus Unbound (1820). The latter is widely considered one of Shelley's most fully realised works.
Shelley's early profession of atheism (in the tract "The Necessity of Atheism") led to his expulsion from Oxford and branded him as a radical agitator and thinker, setting an early pattern of marginalisation and ostracism from the intellectual and political circles of his time. His close circle of admirers, however, included the most progressive thinkers of the day, including his future father-in-law, philosopher William Godwin. Though Shelley's poetry and prose output remained steady throughout his life, most publishers and journals declined to publish his work for fear of being arrested themselves for blasphemy or sedition. Shelley never lived to see the extent of his success and influence, which would reach down to the present day not only in the literary canon, but in major movements in social and political thought.
Shelley became an idol of the next three or four generations of poets, including important Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite poets such as Robert Browning, and Dante Gabriel Rosetti. He was admired by Oscar Wilde, Thomas Hardy, George Bernard Shaw, Bertrand Russell, W. B. Yeats, Karl Marx, Upton Sinclair and Isadora Duncan. Henry David Thoreau's civil disobedience and Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi's passive resistance were apparently influenced and inspired by Shelley's non-violence in protest and political action, although Gandhi does not include him in his list of mentors.