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Love in the Time of RevolutionTransatlantic Literary Radicalism and Historical Change, 1793-1818$
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Andrew Cayton

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781469607504

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9781469607511_Cayton

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Love's “Very Essence Is Liberty”

Love's “Very Essence Is Liberty”

(p.270) 9 Love's “Very Essence Is Liberty”
Love in the Time of Revolution

Andrew Cayton

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter talks about the runaway romance between Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Godwin. Percy Bysshe Shelley was twenty-one in the early summer of 1814. Although he could not have known it, he had already lived two-thirds of his life. In the eight years that remained before he drowned in a storm off the coast of Italy, he would write some of the most celebrated poems in the English language. Sixteen-year-old Mary Godwin would survive her husband by twenty-nine years. A professional writer whose novels mimicked, commented on, and revised the forms and content of her parents' works, Mary was best known, until recently, as the author of Frankenstein and the steward of her husband's reputation. Percy was not widely appreciated until later in the nineteenth century. Controversial in life, he became a signature Romantic artist in death: a creative genius whose transcendent poetry excused, if it did not depend upon, unconventional behavior, an iconoclastic rebel who refused to kowtow to social expectations.

Keywords:   romance, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Godwin, Romantic artist, professional writer, Frankenstein

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