Percy Bysshe Shelley

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Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792 - 1822) was born in Horsham, the son of most respectable parents; but after a period spent at Eton College he emerged as an atheist, a free-thinker and a radical. He was also a poet, though he earned little by it (as do most poets, it must be confessed). It has seemed to some critics that his poems were to him but a means for disseminating his dangerous opinions, while others have praised them for their lyric delicacy. On such matters it is perhaps best to judge for oneself.

In his domestic life Shelley was no more conventional than in his political beliefs. He married young - grew to dislike his wife - abandoned her with their three children and ran away with another young lady who suited him better. His wife having conveniently drowned herself in a fit of melancholy, Shelley then married his mistress and set off with her on travels to Europe, where both the climate and the politics were more to his taste. It is here that his path crossed that of Jonathan Strange, who met Shelley and his curious household (which included his wife's half-sister, Claire Clairmont, who had been Byron's mistress and is supposed by some to have been Shelley's too). The whole ménage did not impress Strange favourably[50].

Shelley drowned in a storm off the coast of Italy and his remains were burned there upon a beach.