Today in History: Percy Bysshe Shelley Is Born

| August 4, 2017

170801_news_219x365I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

Ozymandias, by Percy Bysshe Shelley

On August 4, 1792, Percy Bysshe Shelley was born near Horsham, Sussex, England to a wealthy aristocratic family. Shelley was one of the major English Romantic poets, radical in writing and his social-political views, and part of the influential circle of poets and writers that included Lord Byron, Leigh Hunt, and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, his second wife. Shelley’s work included Prometheus Unbound (published 1820), “Ozymandias” “Ode to the West Wind,” and “To a Skylark“. He was widely admired by generations of writers and his work continues to be read in schools today.

Be sure to check out Everett Cafe Book Display, Unbound: Remixing the Classics, which includes and/or references work of Percy and Mary Shelley, as well as Robert Southey, who was similarly expelled from school for his radical views, and whom Shelley once visited in the Lake District.

The following articles are selected from Proquest Historical Newspapers, which informs and inspires classroom teaching and learning.


  • Check out New York Public Library’s Holdings!

Percy Bysshe Shelley Manuscript Material, 1809-1822 (303 items in English and Italian). The Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle which includes: the holograph manuscript of Shellley’s Philosophical View of Reform; the “Esdaile Notebook,” a copybook containing over fifty early holograph poems; and extensive holograph revisions in a printed copy of his Queen Mab. The bulk of the correspondence is dated between 1810 and 1822 and discusses publishing matters, family arrangements and financial concerns. Correspondents include: Lord Byron, poet; William Godwin, philosopher and novelist; Thomas Jefferson Hogg, lawyer and writer, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, novelist; and over fifty others.

Percy Bysshe Shelley Collection of Papers, 1809-1908 (99 items). This is a synthetic collection that includes manuscripts, correspondence by and about the author, and financial documents The manuscripts include a holograph of an essay by Shelley and a transcription of a Shelley poem in Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s hand. Also included are manuscript materials by Leigh Hunt and Humbert Wolf relating to Shelley. The financial documents include bank drafts, one of which is a forgery.

  • See additional holdings through Archive Grid, the public interface for OCLC WorldCat.
  • Books at Teachers College, via Educat, the catalog of the Gottesman Libraries.


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