"And you think your assailant was a Percy Shelley?"

Percy Bysshe Shelley 1819
Public DomainPercy Bysshe Shelley 1819 - Credit: Alfred Clint
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) was an English Romantic poet, critically regarded as among the finest lyric poets.  He was a close friend of poet Lord Byron, and was married to author Mary Shelly (his second wife). His body of work includes anthology verse, long visionary poems, dramatic plays, Gothic novels and prose. 

His adult life was short and turbulent.  His pamphlet, The Necessity of Atheism, resulted in his expulsion from Oxford aged 18, in 1811, and a break with his father.  Four months later, he eloped to Scotland with 16-year-old Harriet Westbrook.  This turned out to be an unhappy and very short marriage.  Three years later, in 1814, Shelley abandoned Harriet, pregnant with their son Charles, and ran away to Switzerland with Mary Godwin, aged 16.  They returned home after 6 weeks, destitute, and in much trouble with their respective families.  Shelley and Mary married in 1816, following Harriet’s suicide. For six years, Shelley and Mary travelled extensively, spending much time in Italy with Lord Byron.  Shelley produced a number of major works in this period, although received limited critical acclaim in his lifetime.  In 1822, less than a month before his 30th birthday, Shelley drowned in a sudden storm while sailing in Italy, leaving Mary a widow at age 24.