Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
was born near Horsham in Sussex, England, the son of a member
of parliament. He was educated at Eton and later Oxford University,
where he began to form his own political and religious ideas,
writing a pamphlet called The
Necessity of Atheism that attacked the the idea
of compulsory Christianity. When the University discovered
what he had written, he was expelled. His reaction was to
elope to Ireland with the 16 year old daughter of a nearby
coffee-house owner, and make revolutionary speeches on religion
and politics along a similar unconventional vein. He later
had poetry published on the subjects of republicanism, atheism,
vegetarianism and free love. In 1814, he fell in love with
and married the 16 year old daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft,
the author of the Vindication of the Rights of Women,
and for the next few years travelled around Europe with her.
Shelley would herself go on to write Frankenstein.
In 1822, Shelley moved to Italy where he was free to begin
publishing a Journal called The Liberal; but unfortunately
was lost at sea the same year. When his body floated to shore
a volume of Keats' poetry was found open in Shelley's coat
pocket. The remains were reduced to ashes and deposited in
the Protestant burial ground at Rome, near those of a child
he had lost in that city. Mary Shelley never remarried.