Shelley

Prof. Richard Holmes, O.B.E.

Shelley, the most neglected of all the great Romantic poets, was born in Sussex in 1792 and died in Tuscany in 1822, a brief life packed with love affairs, alarums and excursions. Holmes’s book offers a serious and critical reappraisal of Shelley as a man and a writer; all his prose and poetry is carefully re-examined, his sense of spiritual and geographical isolation brilliantly described and a detailed portrait of his macabre imaginative life slowly assembled. Shelley’s intense friendships with some of the most remarkable figures of his age fill Holmes’s pages with a vivid parorama of revolutionary idealism and recklessness. To this is added the private story of Shelley’s tortuous romantic liaisons, complications which affected both the peculiar tenor of his daily life and the remotest conceptions of his poetry. This is a stunning, entrancing biography of a fascinating subject, and a timely reissue of an absolutely seminal work.

Reviews of Shelley

  • ‘If the art of biography was ever damned, “Shelley: The Pursuit” redeemed it.’ New York Times

    ‘The best biography of Shelley ever written. The great emphasis that Mr. Holmes lays on Shelley’s politics, philosophy and social activities corrects the usual view of an extraordinarily idealised, ethereal, spiritualized kind of poetry combined with an extraordinarily incoherent life. He has taken the Shelley story out of the realm of myth and made it far more convincing and significant.’ Sir Stephen Spender

    ‘An unquestionably great biography which banished forever the image of the poet as an ineffectual angel.’ Independent on Sunday