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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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“The True Key of the Universe is Love”

“The True Key of the Universe is Love”

(p.300) 10 “The True Key of the Universe is Love”
Love in the Time of Revolution

Andrew Cayton

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter focuses on the time when Thomas Medwin informed Mary Shelley that he was writing a biography of his second cousin Percy Shelley, who had drowned off the coast of Italy almost a quarter century earlier. Medwin implied that he would mine the records of the 1817 Chancery suit in which Percy had lost guardianship of his children by Harriet Westbrook to detail the poet's desertion of his first wife and her subsequent suicide. An appalled Mary Shelley urged Medwin to give up the project entirely. At stake were the reputations of innocent people. “In modern society,” she protested, “there is no injury so great as dragging private names and private life before the world.” Medwin's book “would wound and injure the living,” Percy Shelley's daughter in particular.

Keywords:   Thomas Medwin, Mary Shelley, biography, reputations, Percy Shelley

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