"less Byronic than Shelleyan"
Lord Byron by Thomas Phillips
Public DomainLord Byron by Thomas Phillips
Byron and Shelley were two of the most famous Romantic poets, writing in the early nineteenth century. Lord Byron is best known for poems such as "She Walks in Beauty" and longer works like Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, however his life was every bit as colourful as his writing. Given to excess, he ran up huge debts, fell violently in and out of love, and ran away to lead a regional group of the Carbonari, Italy's secret revolutionaries. Later, he fought against the Ottoman Empire in the Greek War of Independence. He was described by one of his lovers, the novelist Lady Caroline Lamb, as "mad, bad and dangerous to know".

By contrast, Percy Bysshe Shelley was a committed idealist who espoused non-violence and inspired leaders from Karl Marx to Ghandi. His famous works include "Ozymandias" and Prometheus Unbound, although he was not very successful during his lifetime and is thought to have had only 50 readers at the time of his death by drowning in 1822, just a month before his 30th birthday.