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The Big Six Romantic Poets + Mary Shelley

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Sara Knight

on 12 March 2014

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Transcript of The Big Six Romantic Poets + Mary Shelley

Of Romantic Poetry
The Big Six
William Blake
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
William Blake's significance in the Romantic movement came late in the 19th century, after what is officially considered the Romantic period
William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth's reputation is defined by his poems of nature, but his early life was dominated by an interest in the French Revolution and the libertarian ideals of the time
His career as a poet and writer was established after he befriended Wordsworth, and together they produced the
Lyrical Ballads
in 1798
George Gordon, Lord Byron
After attending Cambridge, Byron quickly scaled the literary ladder and secured much acclaim in 1809 with his satirical poem "English Bards and Scotch Reviewers" – an attack on the criticism of his early works
Percy Shelley
His reputation as a rebel against English politics and the conservative values of the day began early in his career
John Keats
Keats is the tragic figure of the Romantic movement who died young, but during his brief life he created some of the best known and most enduring poetry of the 19th century
He was a passionate believer in liberty and freedom for all, especially for women
His first book,
Poetical Sketches
, was published in 1783. From then on, he published everything himself. He produced his most famous works,
Songs of Innocence
(1789) and
Songs of Experience
(1794), by engraving both words and pictures on the same plate, his lasting style
Although Blake struggled to make a living from his work during his lifetime, his influence and ideas are possibly the strongest of all the Romantic poets.
Together with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Wordsworth wrote
Lyrical Ballads,
in which they sought to write poetry in ordinary speech for the people
First published without the names of the authors, it was the book that arguably defined the Romantic movement
Wordsworth's major work was his autobiographical poem
The Prelude
In 1842, long after his radical beliefs had waned, he was made poet laureate
For most of his adult life he suffered through addiction to laudanum and opium
His most famous works "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," "Kubla Khan," and "Christabel" all display supernatural themes and exotic images, perhaps influenced by drugs
Coleridge was as much an essayist as he was a poet, as revealed in his major work,
Biographia Literaria
, published in 1817
His social status, liberal beliefs, good looks, and suggestive activities became legendary
The controversy surrounding the alleged incestuous relationship with his half-sister forced Byron to leave England in 1817;his remains were return after his death in 1824. He fled to Switzerland, became a close friend of Shelley
Byron continued to be hugely successful in England despite his exile, producing further
Cantos of Childe Harold
and embarking on further epic poems,
The Prisoner of Chillon
and
Don Juan
After just one year at Oxford, he wrote
The Necessity of Atheism
with Thomas Jefferson Hogg. No sooner had the book hit the shelves than the Church ordered a ban and Shelley was expelled from university
While in Italy, Shelley began to publish most of his work, including
Prometheus, Unbound
in 1820 and
Epipsychidion
in 1821.
Adonais
, his elegy to John Keats who Shelley much admired, was written following Keats's death in 1821
On July 8, 1822, Shelley drowned while sailing in the Bay of Spezia, near Lerici, Italy. It is said that when his body washed up on the shore 10 days later, his friends, including Mary Shelley and Lord Byron, burned his body on the beach. His heart, plucked from the flames intact, was preserved and
wrapped in the
manuscript for
Adonais
.
He suffered much criticism after his first major effort,
Endymion
, which was published in 1818, but Keats continued to write and examine his work more closely.
Lamia
,
Isabella
,
The Eve of St. Agnes
, published in 1820, is widely regarded as some of the best poetry to have been written during the period.
He died in Rome in 1821 at the tender age of 25. Keats wrote his own epitaph, which describes his belief that he would not be remembered:
"Here lies one whose
name was writ
in water"
His death was to influence Shelley in
particular
, who wrote the poem
Adonais
in his honor
and attacked critics

for
their harsh treatment of Keats's early work
Mary Shelley
Born 1797
to radical philosopher William Godwin
and early
feminist Mary Wollstonecraft.
Because her
mother died in childbirth, Mary was
raised by
her stepmother. The two did not get
along.
Mary moved out
at the age of 15 to live with
family friends. She

met
Percy Shelley, the married radical
poet at a party.
The two ran off to
Europe in June 1814. Mary had a
miscarriage in

February
1815, and then gave birth
to William in

January
1816.
Percy and Mary stayed
with friend Lord Byron in
Geneva, where Mary
started work on
Frankenstein
inspired

by German
ghost stories
Percy's wife
committed suicide in 1816
Mary survived
her husband and two of her children
Full transcript