A LITERARY REVOLUTION
of nature. They also favoured the chaos of the medieval period over the order of the Classical ancient times, which had been inspiring the neoclassical artists of the mid-18th century.
While Mary’s mother had kept company with the early Romantic poets – including
Songs of Innocence and Experience writer William Blake – Mary herself fell in with the later crowd, of which Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley (along with John Keats) were the leaders of the pack. Her husband Shelley was an exciting poet, concerned with politics and revolution, and he conjured great images of fire and climactic events in epic poems such as Queen Mab and Ode to the West
Wind. Byron, on the other hand, had a more witty, satiric style, and at the time was known as the ‘gloomy egoist’ who found almost instant fame with the autobiographical poem Childe Harold’s
Pilgrimage, part of which Mary actually transcribed for him. It is undeniable that Mary found herself influenced by these two powerful poets, and she influenced them in return. Britain’s Romantic writers, of whom Mary Shelley was a key player, would not have referred to themselves as ‘Romantic’ – that name did not appear until the mid-1800s. However, it is a very apt description of what they did – they romanticised. Quite generally speaking, they looked back to days gone by – before the Industrial Revolution pulled the lower classes out of the countryside and into overcrowded cities – while marvelling at the mysteries