Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Young Romantics

Young Romantics

The Shelleys, Byron, and Other Tangled Lives

Daisy Hay

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



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.


Praise for Young Romantics

“[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

“By assembling a great cast and exploring their high dramas, the author has given us a feast of a book.” —Edna O'Brien

“The originality of this engrossing narrative comes from Daisy Hay's unusual focus on the passionate allegiances and literary influences between her characters. With great skill she weaves in and out of the lives of these poets, novelists, and philosophers, their husbands, wives, lovers, and children, exploring the dual nature of the creative impulse, its individuality, and the stimulus of kindred spirits. It is a most impressive achievement.” —Michael Holroyd

“This erudite volume brings the second-generation Romantics entertainingly and vividly to life.” —Duncan Wu

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

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Daisy Hay

Daisy Hay recently completed a doctorate in English literature at Cambridge. She lives in London. Young Romantics is her first book.

Daisy Hay

© Jonathan Ring

Daisy Hay

From the Publisher

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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