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Young Romantics: The Shelleys, Byron and…
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Young Romantics: The Shelleys, Byron and Other Tangled Lives (2010)

by Daisy Hay

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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
  JMlibrarian | Feb 27, 2015 |
The Romantics have been a huge part of my life; if it wasn’t for them I may never have become a reader. Problem is, I don’t know much about their lives so I have set out to learn more. Young Romantics by Daisy Hay tells the basic story of their lives, but with the subtitle The Shelleys, Byron and Other Tangled Lives you can be sure it will be heavily focused on Mary and Claire.

This is not necessarily a bad thing; Mary Shelley and Claire Clairmont were fascinating people, however this seems to be the primary focus of more biographies. I was a little surprised when Daisy Hay spends so little time on that fateful time in Geneva that birthed Frankenstein but I assume that she deliberately glossed over that story assuming everyone was aware of it anyway.

Young Romantics did something I didn’t expect and that was spending a lot of time talking about the Hunt brothers. I knew they played a big part in literature at the time and that in context to the Romantics it is relevant information. However I never viewed them as Romantics and often over looked learning about them. This is a mistake on my behalf; the role the Hunts played in the Romantic Movement is an essential part in dealing with context. I might not consider them Romantics but they were there shaping the literary world along side them.

Having discovered a new interest in non-fiction I find myself wanting to read more biographies. While I have a great interest in the Romantics, I found that Young Romantics works to create a basic understanding of their lives. You get a quick overview of the lives of the Shelleys and the Hunts. Unfortunately there isn’t much to do with Lord Byron and even less to do with the others. I would have loved to read more about Keats but he only got a brief look in.

I plan to read more biographies about a range of different authors but I’m sure there will be plenty on the Romantics. I like Young Romantics for the broad strokes approach it took on the Romantics. I learnt a lot from this book but I’m sure people with a great knowledge would have been a little disappointed with it. I think if you have a passing interest in the Romantics this might be the perfect choice.

This review originally appeared on my blog; http://literary-exploration.com/2014/05/21/young-romantics-by-daisy-hay/ ( )
  knowledge_lost | Dec 7, 2014 |
Was surprised how much I enjoyed the telling of the interwoven lives of the romantic poets Shelley, Byron, Keats along with Mary Shelley and the women in their lives. Fascinating insight into a very specific period - and whilst it was of a period, it is quite contemporary particularly how there lives and attitudes change from their idealist late teens' to 20's to their maturating 30's and so on. I think [[Daisy Hay]] has done a great job finding some common threads, in particular Leigh Hunt and Mary Shelley, to tie a potentially messy story into a coherent understanding of the life and times and influences of these influential artists. ( )
  tandah | May 1, 2014 |
Incest! Suicide! Adultery! Child Abandonment! Ménage à trois! Revolution! Free love! Atheism! Vegetarianism! Counter-culture! So, an account of the 1960s? Try 1810s. As the subtitle proclaims, this is about "the Shelleys, Byron, and other tangled lives"--including Keats: "a story of exceptional men and women, who were made by their relationships with one another."

You might know that the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley was friends with the equally renowned poet Lord Byron and husband to Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein. You may even know the famous story of the novel's genesis in a challenge that each should write a ghost story. Mary was nineteen then--she was sixteen when she ran away with Shelley--while he was still married to his first wife, who was pregnant at the time. Mary's stepsister Claire ran away with them, and would later give birth to Byron's illegitimate daughter. The coterie were advocates of "free love," which Claire in old age would condemn as a "perfect hell." I have to admit, although far from socially conservative, I'm no fan of "free love" and the wreckage it leaves in its wake, and this book gives plenty of fodder to confirm my opinion. Neither Shelley nor Byron come off well in this group biography, even if Shelley had the excuse of youthful idealism, and seemed more thoughtless than intentionally cruel.

They were all so young though. When this account opens, Mary was fifteen, Shelley twenty and Byron only twenty-four. Shelley wouldn't reach thirty. Keats, who is my favorite of the poets that appears here died at an even more obscenely young age--twenty-five. Not that Keats figures much here--I garnered more of his story from the introduction to my book of his poems than from this book. But the Shelleys are central, and with many of their letters and diaries surviving, Hay is able to paint a very intimate portrait that is psychologically nuanced and astute, and sheds light on the men's work. Keats may be a favorite, but I was underwhelmed by most of what I've read by Percy Shelley, and have read little of Lord Byron. It's to the book's credit it left me wanting to give Shelley another chance, and Lord Byron a try. I might count myself lucky after reading this book not to be in their circle or that of anyone like them, but they certainly left a rich literary legacy. And this is more than a gossipy account of their scandalous "turbulent communal existence"--it grounds them in the intellectual and political ferment of their times.

But, well, can't help but leave you with a link to this comic strip that captured the central relationship in the book well :-) Enjoy!

http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php?id=56 ( )
  LisaMaria_C | Jun 1, 2013 |
A breezy take on Shelly and his fascinating circle. The book is very entertaining when when recounting the events and personalities, peppered with a little gossipy speculation. It becomes tedious, however, when it strays into theories of creativity and relationships; there you glimpse the the books foundation of the doctoral thesis of a gifted writer, but not terribly original thinker. Still, it's a good beach read for the literary minded. ( )
  aaronbaron | Sep 25, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
The epigraph to Young Romantics is taken from something Keats wrote of his circle in 1817: "The web of our Life is of mingled yarn." It is the author's great achievement to have so deftly unpicked the glorious knot formed by these jumbled and many hued fibres, and by doing so, to have revealed their true colours, blazing and afresh.
added by peterbrown | editThe Observer, Rachel Cooke (Apr 25, 2010)
 
But it’s as a biographer pure and simple that Hay ­shines. Despite being almost as youthful as her subjects — she only recently received her doctorate from Cambridge, and “Young Romantics” is her first book — she is a skilled and sure-­footed chronicler. In firm, clear, often elegant prose, she narrates the main events in the lives of her subjects from 1813, when they began to coalesce around Hunt in London, till 1822, when Shelley drowned near Livorno, Italy. She also more briefly considers the aftermath of that tragedy; Byron’s death in Greece in 1824; the later lives of the remaining figures; and, finally, the struggle over the legacies of Shelley and Byron waged by Hunt and other memoirists. Moving swiftly and purposefully, her story has no longueurs whatsoever, nor even a single lurching transition; it represents a triumph of artful selection and synthesis. If you want to read a single book of modest length on the lives (less so the work) of the later Romantics, this might very well be the one.
 
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'The web of our Life is of mingled yarn' - John Keats to Benjamin Bailey, 8 October 1817.
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In memory of Anne Mackenzie-Stuart | and for Matthew
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374123756, Hardcover)

Young Romantics tells the story of the interlinked lives of the young English Romantic poets from an entirely fresh perspective—celebrating their extreme youth and outsize yearning for friendship as well as their individuality and political radicalism.

 The book focuses on the network of writers and readers who gathered around Percy Bysshe Shelley and the campaigning journalist Leigh Hunt. They included Lord Byron, John Keats, and Mary Shelley, as well as a host of fascinating lesser-known figures: Mary Shelley’s stepsister and Byron’s mistress, Claire Clairmont; Hunt’s botanist sister-in-law, Elizabeth Kent; the musician Vincent Novello; the painters Benjamin Haydon and Joseph Severn; and writers such as Charles and Mary Lamb, Thomas Love Peacock, and William Hazlitt. They were characterized by talent, idealism, and youthful ardor, and these qualities shaped and informed their politically oppositional stances—as did their chaotic family arrangements, which often left the young women, despite their talents, facing the consequences of the men’s philosophies.

In Young Romantics, Daisy Hay follows the group’s exploits, from its inception in Hunt’s prison cell in 1813 to its disintegration after Shelley’s premature death in 1822. It is an enthralling tale of love, betrayal, sacrifice, and friendship, all of which were played out against a background of political turbulence and intense literary creativity.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:40:51 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Focuses on the network of writers and readers who gathered around Percy Bysshe Shelley and the campaigning journalist Leigh Hunt. They included Lord Byron, John Keats, and Mary Shelley, as well as a host of lesser-known figures: Mary Shelley's stepsister and Byron's mistress, Claire Clairmont; Hunt's botanist sister-in-law, Elizabeth Kent; the musician Vincent Novello; the painters Benjamin Haydon and Joseph Severn; and writers such as Charles and Mary Lamb, Thomas Love Peacock, and William Hazlitt. They were characterized by talent, idealism, and youthful ardor, and these qualities shaped and informed their politically oppositional stances--as did their chaotic family arrangements, which often left the young women, despite their talents, facing the consequences of the men's philosophies.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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