Biography of Percy Bysshe Shelley

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Percy Bysshe Shelley was born in Horsham, England in 1792. He was tutored at home before entering Syon House in Brentford at the age of ten, moving on two years later to Eton College and eventually to University College, Oxford. He published his first novel while at Oxford, during which time he also wrote and published several radical pamphlets. On refusing to abandon, what was seen as his extreme views, Shelley was eventually asked to leave the college, which he did in 1811, shortly before he eloped to Scotland to marry the sixteen year old Harriet Westbrook. This marriage did not last long, however, and soon after Shelley fell in love with Mary Wollstonecraft’s daughter, Mary Godwin. The two undertook several journeys to Europe, where they associated with other romantic poets such as Byron, and wrote and published poetry quite prolifically.

In 1816, Shelley’s wife Harriet drowned herself in the Serpentine, leaving Shelley free to marry Mary after which they moved to Buckinghamshire, where they continued to associate with poets, such as John Keats, before moving once again to Italy. It was in Italy, in 1822, that Shelley aged 29, drowned when the boat he was in sunk during an unexpected storm.