Autograph Document Signed, one page, 2 1/2 by 7 1/4 inches, London, December 23, 1815. Percy Bysshe Shelley requests Messrs. Brookes & Co. of Chancery Lane to “Pay to Mr. Clairmont three Pounds….” Pen cancellations passing through, but not seriously affecting the signature.
Written shortly after completing (in mid-December) his long poem about travel and self-searching, Alastor, or The spirit of Solitude. It is the first poem in which Shelley is truly himself and though it attracted little attention when it was published in 1816, it has come to be recognized as his first major achievement.
Shelley, while breathtakingly unique and creative, was a man of his times. From his earliest student days at Eton and Oxford, he was fascinated by all the developments in science and exploratory travel taking place around him. The popular rage for ballooning captured his fancy; he viewed balloons as symbols of liberty and liked to send up silk-covered fire balloons carrying copies of his revolutionary pamphlet, “A Declaration of Rights.” His poem Alastor has something of Mungo Park’s enigmatic wanderlust; like other poets of his generation he was fascinated by the mysterious African travels of the doomed explorer. He and his second wife Mary Godwin [Shelley] (author of Frankenstein) were fascinated with notions of creating artificial life; they talked about mixing scientific ideas with psychology. For Shelley, who would come to be regarded as one of the major poets of the Romantic era, and one of the finest lyric poets in the English language, revolutionary thoughts, whether in science or politics, would lead to atheism. He used the astronomer William Herschel’s vision of an open-ended solar system, and an unimaginably expanded universe, to attack religious belief.
Uncompromising in his unconventional life and idealism, Percy Bysshe Shelley (who died young) did not live long enough to enjoy the full measure of his success and influence. He would become an idol for the next three or four generations of poets, including the important Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite poets.
Framed (with an engraving) dimensions: 13 inches wide by 14 inches high.
This item is associated with the following category in our inventory:
- Literature – English/Irish