Archive Spotlight/On This Day 1822- “Remain, thou, thou art so beautiful”: Shelley’s Boat Sketches

By Jack Orchard

The BARS ‘On This Day’ Blog series celebrates the 200th anniversary of literary and historical events of the Romantic period, and our ‘Archive Spotlight’ series showcases research projects based in archives and heritage institutions and showcases work with physical or digital manuscripts. Want to contribute a future post? Get in touch.

As we approach the 200th anniversary of the death of Percy Bysshe Shelley on 8 July 1822, we bring you a special Archive Spotlight/On This Day crossover from Laura Blunsden, who explores the relationship between text an images in Percy Shelley’s notebooks held at the Bodleian Library, focusing on the sketch of a sailing boat in his pocket notebook, its relationship with the texts that surround it, and its haunting foreshadowing of Shelley’s upcoming death.

Between translated lines of Goethe’s Faust and his lyrical poem ‘With a Guitar. To Jane’, a sketch of a sailing boat emerging from around a bend in the river Arno fills an entire page of Shelley’s pocket notebook. The sails are filled with an invisible breeze which ripples the water’s surface with thin, wave-like lines, and sways the curly loops of foliage that cover the sloping river banks. Even the tree, which …read more