Percy Shelley is best known as one of the major English Romantic poets, and is regarded by critics as one of the finest poets in the English language. Shelley was a key member of a close circle of visionary poets and writers that included Lord Byron; Leigh Hunt; Thomas Love Peacock; and his own second wife, Mary Shelley. His "poems display a similar heightened awareness to Wordsworth's and the same awareness of the spirit-force pervading the world". His love of nature was evident not only in his poems, as described by Sydney Waterlow in the book titled "Shelley: The Poet of Rebellion, Nature, and Love", but also in his long walks when staying at Field Place before he went to Oxford.
Percey Shelley was born the eldest legitimate son of Sir Timothy Shelley — a Whig Member of Parliament for Horsham from 1790–92 and for Shoreham from 1806–12; and his wife Elizabeth Pilford, a Sussex landowner, Shelley was born 4 August 1792 at Field Place, Broadbridge Heath, near Horsham, West Sussex, England. He had four younger sisters and one much younger brother.
In 1810 Shelley attended University College, Oxford. In 1811, Shelley published his second Gothic novel, St. Irvyne. Soon after, he married, but was not happy with the arrangement. He did not find his wife to be intellectually stimulating. On 28 July 1814, Shelley abandoned Harriet, now pregnant with their son Charles (November 1814 – 1826) and (in imitation of the hero of one of Godwin's novels) he ran away to Switzerland with Mary, then 16, inviting her stepsister Claire Clairmont (also 16) along because she could speak French. On 8 July 1822, less than a month before his 30th birthday, Shelley drowned in a sudden storm on the Gulf of Spezia while returning from Leghorn (Livorno) to Lerici in his sailing boat, the Don Juan.
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