Young Romantics tells the story of the interlinked lives of the young English Romantic poets from an entirely fresh perspective—recounting their journey for 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, including stepsisters, mistresses, musicians, painters, and other writers. 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.
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. Played out against a background of political turbulence and intense literary creativity, Young Romantics is a tale of love, betrayal, sacrifice, and friendship.
“[Hay] is a skilled and surefooted chronicler. In firm, clear, often elegant prose, she narrates the main events in the lives of her subjects from 1813, when they began to coaslesce around Hunt in London, till 1822, when Shelley drowned near Livorno, Italy.” —Ben Downing, The New York Times Book Review
“Young Romantics is an enthralling tale of love, betrayal, sacrifice, and friendship played out against a backdrop of political turbulence and intense literary creativity. And “Hay's account of the passionate and messy lives of her Romantics is vivid, picturesque, and finely told.” —Richard Eder, The Boston Globe
The Shelleys, Byron, and Other Tangled Lives