This post was originally published on Romantic Textualities , June 2015.
The Shelleys’ collaborative literary relationship never had a constant dynamic: as with the nature of any human relationship, it changed over time. In my research I aim to identify the shifts in the way in which the Shelleys worked together, a crucial standpoint being that collaboration involves challenge and disagreement as well as encouragement and support. The Shelleys’ collaborative peak was the work on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in 1816-1818 (to which Percy Shelley made corrections and alterations). Interest in the Shelleys’ relationship post-1818 suggests that they were not working as closely in the four years immediately preceding Percy’s death in 1822. Fascinating and insightful biographies of the couple, such as Daisy Hay’s Young Romantics, suggest that Mary worked alone on her novel Valperga (published in 1823), and Percy increasingly engaged in literary discussions with others. Evidence for this is in part based on the significance of Percy’s 1821 semi-autobiographical poem Epipsychidion, ‘an idealised history of my life and feelings’, which not only contains a thinly-veiled criticism of Mary’s character, but is in many ways a love poem addressed to another woman, Emilia Viviani. Percy actively hid …read more