The Life and Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley: A Biography


Percy Bysshe Shelley is often regarded as one of the most influential poets of his time, leaving a lasting impact on the world of literature. Born in 1792 in Sussex, England, he was raised in a wealthy family and received a prestigious education. However, Shelley’s unconventional views and rebellious nature led to him being expelled from Oxford University in 1811.

Despite the setback, Shelley continued to pursue his passion for writing and poetry. He also became increasingly involved in political and social activism, inspired by the French Revolution and the ideas of freedom and equality it promoted. This passion for social justice can be seen in many of his works, where he frequently denounced the injustices of his time.

Shelley’s early works were heavily influenced by the Romantic poets, including William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge. He also drew inspiration from his close friend and fellow poet, Lord Byron. However, Shelley’s writing quickly developed its own unique style and themes. He was known for his vivid imagination, lyrical language, and powerful imagery. Some of his most famous poetry includes “Ode to the West Wind”, “Ozymandias”, and “Prometheus Unbound”.

One of Shelley’s most significant works, both in terms of its impact and controversy, was the long narrative poem “Queen Mab”. Published in 1813, it depicted a utopian society based on the principles of reason, equality, and love. However, the poem also contained strong anti-religious sentiments, which sparked outrage and led to it being banned. Despite this, “Queen Mab” became a major influence on the Romantic movement and was a source of inspiration for many future writers and poets.

Shelley’s personal life was just as tumultuous as his writing career. In 1811, he eloped with 16-year-old Harriet Westbrook against her family’s wishes. The marriage was not a happy one, and he soon left her for Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, the daughter of political philosopher William Godwin. They married in 1816 after Harriet’s tragic suicide, and Mary went on to become a successful writer in her own right.

In 1818, Shelley and Mary traveled to Italy, where they became part of a circle of expatriate writers and artists, including Lord Byron. It was during this time that Shelley wrote some of his most celebrated works, including “Ode to the West Wind” and “Prometheus Unbound”. However, their time in Italy was also marked by personal tragedies, including the deaths of their two children.

Shelley’s life was cut short at the young age of 29 when he drowned in a boating accident off the Italian coast. His death was a shock to the literary world, and his legacy continues to be celebrated today. In addition to his influential poetry, he also left behind many essays and letters that showcased his philosophical and political ideas.

Despite his relatively short life, Percy Bysshe Shelley’s impact on literature and society is immeasurable. His powerful and provocative poetry challenged societal norms and paved the way for future generations of writers to push boundaries and question authority. His legacy continues to inspire and influence readers and writers alike, making him a truly remarkable figure in the history of literature.