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Biography of Percy Bysshe Shelley

Percy Bysshe Shelley was born on August 4, 1792 at Field Place, near Horsham in Sussex, to Sir Timothy Shelley and Elizabeth Pilfold following their marriage in October of 1791. Percy was the eldest of six children; John, Mary, Elizabeth, Hellen, Margaret.

Being of a wealthy family, Percy became heir to the 2nd baronet of Castle Goring in 1815 and received much of his early education by tutor, Reverend Thomas Edwards of Horsham. In 1802, Shelley entered the Sion House Academy of Brentford before heading to Eton College in 1804 and on April 10, 1810 to the University of Oxford.

While at Oxford, Shelley was published for the first time; Gothic novel, Zastrozzi (1810). The same year, Shelley and his sister Elizabeth Co-published Original Poetry by Victor and Cazire. At Oxford, Shelley and another, possibly Thomas Jefferson Hogg, published a collection of verse, Posthumous Fragments of Margaret Nicholson. And in 1811 Shelley published a pamphlet, The Necessity of Atheism, which led to his expulsion from Oxford on March 25, 1811 along with Hogg.

Shelley, however, could have been reinstated if he recanted his views, but refused. This led to a breakdown between himself and his father's relationship.

At the young age of 19, just four months after his expulsion, Shelley eloped to Scotland with a 16-year-old schoolgirl, Harriet Westbrook. Shelley invited his friend Hogg along with his wife to share their household and engage in open marriage activities. However, Harriet refused to be apart of such actions, so the couple left to live in the Lake District.

Being distracted by political events, Shelley left to Ireland and began spreading his radical ideas, giving him much attention, however unfavorable, of the British government.

The following years, Shelley wrote and published Queen Mab. At this point the Shelleys marriage was an unhappy one. Often Shelley would leave his wife and two children while visiting William Godwin's home and bookshop in London. While there, he met and fell in love with Godwin's daughter, Mary.

In July 1814, Shelley eloped once again with a 16-year-old, Mary. The two brought along Mary's step-sister Jane, later called Claire, Clairmont, who was also 16. The three crossed much of Europe traveling through France and later settling in Switzerland. The Shelleys later published a journal accounting the adventure.

After just six weeks, Shelley, Mary and Jane returned to England and found Godwin refusing to speak with neither Mary nor Shelley due to their practice of free love.

In the fall of 1815, Shelley produced Alastor, or The Spirit of Solitude, a verse allegory. The poem held little attention at the time, but later became recognized as one of Shelley's most powerful works. Around this time, much of Shelley's works were influenced by Wordsworth's poetry.

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