The same tenderness and sensibility, the same strain of moral reflection, and the same enthusiastic love of nature, pervade all her effusions.
It appears also as if the wounded feelings of Charlotte Smith had found relief and consolation, during her latter years, in an accurate observation not only of the beautiful effect produced by the endless diversity of natural objects but also in a careful study of their scientific arrangement, and their more minute variations.
- The Monthly Review on Charlotte Smith
Admired by Wordsworth, frowned upon by critics, and vastly underrated in her lifetime. It’s a shame how the female Romantics seem to disappear in history. A very, very melancholy poet.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge: ‘Lakes’ Notebook
A map from one of Coleridge’s notebooks kept between July and September 1802, recording his solitary exploration of the mountainous landscape of the Lake District.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ‘Lakes’ Notebook, 1802
© The British Library Board
‘Modern biography shows clearly that, in his own time, Shelley was famous or rather notorious for his views on political revolution, republicanism„ wars of independence, atheism, and philosophical skepticism…
He campaigned for workers’ societies and universal suffrage at home and also supported liberation movements in Ireland, Spain, Italy, Mexico and Greece. All these ideas deeply affected his poetry.’
- The Folio Poets: Shelley (Most beautiful book I own)
I think a lot of the difficulty of Shelley comes from this. He was intensely revolutionary and tried incredibly hard to make his point, but he was always trapped in this very upper class position, and since he was expelled and essentially disowned by his family he found himself stuck; too distant from the working classes to inspire them personally, despite his best efforts, but too radical to remain a part of the upper class culture he was born into.
Because of this I think Shelley gradually began to pour his radicalism more into his writing in a less direct manner, producing something less opaquely topical but more timeless, and eventually I reckon that’s what produced things like Prometheus Unbound. A chained protagonist, lamenting the state of the world around him, a harbinger of knowledge who doesn’t bring about change personally, but inspires it. I think Prometheus might have been a big deal to Shelley.
But what do I know?