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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative Knowledgeable and Entertaining, 30 July 2011
This review is from: Young Romantics: The Shelleys, Byron and Other Tangled Lives (Paperback)
Daisy Hay has set out to refute the commonly held idea that the quintessential romantic poet was a lonely isolated figure. She does this by showing how many of the second generation of romantic poets, Keats Shelley and Byron came within the orbit of the poet and journalist Leigh Hunt. It is noticeable how she is determined to be fair to all of the major characters whilst never being afraid to highlight their less attractive characteristics or to point out the occasions when they behaved badly. She appreciates that both Shelley and Byron behaved very badly at times whilst appreciating that behaviour which we would look at aghast would attract a lot less comment in the early nineteenth century. She never uses their genius as an excuse whilst at the same time appreciating that genius.

If there is one criticism I would level at the book it is that it to some extent ignores John Keats in much the same way that his contemporaries did. Whilst he knew Leigh Hunt he wasn't a part of his circle in the same way that Shelley and Byron were but he is a poet of at least equal importance. In contrast mary Shelley and Claire Claremont are at the centre of this story and Hay shows us how they both suffered as women who lived their lived in intimately with Byron and Shelley. Any doubts about Mary Shelley's genius is dispelled by Hay's portrait of her and the circumstances under which she wrote her masterpiece. A beautifully written and very enjoyable book, essential reading for anyone interested in the Romantic poets, Mary Shelley and the period.
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