• Full title:   Letter from P B Shelley to Lord Byron, concerning Byron's poem Don Juan
  • Created:   21 October 1821
  • Formats:  Manuscript, Letter, Ephemera
  • Creator:   Percy Bysshe Shelley
  • Copyright: © Model.CollectionItem.CopyrightDisplayForCollectionItem()
  • Usage terms

    © Estate of Percy Bysshe Shelley & Harriet Shelley

  • Held by  British Library
  • Shelfmark:   Ashley MS 5033


Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote this letter to Lord Byron in October 1821 thanking him for the gift of Cantos 3,4 & 5 of Don Juan

He writes that it is important to show ‘in its true deformity what is worst in human nature’, and that we should be shown ‘what we should avoid no less than what we should seek’. Thus he shares with Byron himself the view that, more than being shocking, it is at heart a moralistic poem, attacking vice. While praising its originality, seeing it as Byron’s ‘magnum opus’, and recognising that it is a work that is growing in stature as it develops, Shelley acknowledges that contemporary critics would not enjoy the poem.