See her journal (ed. by F. L. Jones, 1947); her letters (ed. by M. Spark and D. Stamford, 1953); biographies by M. Spark (1951, repr. 1988), N. B. Gerson (1973), and M. Seymour (2001); studies by W. A. Walling (1972) and E. Sunstein (1989).
The son of a prosperous squire, he entered Oxford in 1810, where readings in philosophy led him toward a study of the empiricists and the modern skeptics, notably William Godwin. In 1811 he and his friend Thomas Jefferson Hogg published their pamphlet, The Necessity of Atheism, which resulted in their immediate expulsion from the university. The same year Shelley eloped with 16-year-old Harriet Westbrook, by whom he eventually had two children, Ianthe and Charles.
Supported reluctantly by their fathers, the young couple traveled through Great Britain. Shelley's life continued to be dominated by his desire for social and political reform, and he was constantly publishing pamphlets. His first important poem, Queen Mab, privately printed in 1813, set forth a radical system of curing social ills by advocating the destruction of various established institutions.
In 1814 Shelley left England for France with Mary Godwin, the daughter of William Godwin. During their first year together they were plagued by social ostracism and financial difficulties. However, in 1815 Shelley's grandfather died and left him an annual income. Laon and Cynthna appeared in 1817 but was withdrawn and reissued the following year as The Revolt of Islam; it is a long poem in Spenserian stanzas that tells of a revolution and illustrates the growth of the human mind aspiring toward perfection.
After Harriet Shelley's suicide in 1816, Shelley and Mary officially married. In 1817 Harriet's parents obtained a decree from the lord chancellor stating that Shelley was unfit to have custody of his children. The following year Shelley and Mary left England and settled in Italy. By this time their household consisted of their own three children and Mary's half-sister Claire Clairmont and her daughter Allegra (whose father was Lord Byron). On July 8, 1822, Shelley drowned while sailing in the Bay of Spezia, near Lerici.
Shelley composed the great body of his poetry in Italy. The Cenci, a tragedy in verse exploring moral deformity, was published in 1819, followed by his masterpiece, Prometheus Unbound (1820). In this lyrical drama Shelley poured forth all his passions and beliefs, which were modeled after the ideas of Plato. Epipsychidion (1821) is a poem addressed to Emilia Viviani, a young woman whom Shelley met in Pisa and with whom he developed a brief but close friendship.
His great elegy, Adonais (1821), written in memory of Keats, asserts the immortality of beauty. Hellas (1822), a lyrical drama, was inspired by the Greek struggle for independence. His other poems include Alastor (1816) and the shorter poems "Ode to the West Wind," "To a Skylark," "Ozymandias," "The Indian Serenade," and "When the Lamp Is Shattered."
Most of Shelley's poetry reveals his philosophy, a combination of belief in the power of human love and reason, and faith in the perfectibility and ultimate progress of humanity. His verse is at once deeply political, sensuous, and passionate, and his lyric poems are superb in their beauty, grandeur, and mastery of language. Although Matthew Arnold labeled him an "ineffectual angel," later critics have taken Shelley seriously, recognizing his wit, his gifts as a satirist, and his influence as a social and political thinker.
See his complete poetical works, ed. by N. Rogers (2 vol., 1972-74); letters, ed. by F. L. Jones (2 vol., 1964); biographies by E. C. Blunden (rev. ed. 1965), J. O. Fuller (1969), N. I. White (2 vol., 1940; repr. 1972), and R. Holmes (1974, new ed. 2003); studies by N. Rogers (2d ed. 1967), H. Bloom (2d ed. 1969), E. R. Wasserman (1971), K. N. Cameron (1974), C. Tomalin (1980), D. King-Hele (1981), S. M. Sperry (1988), and I. Gilmour (2003); K. N. Cameron and D. H. Reiman, ed., Shelley and His Circle (8 vol., 1961-85); A. Wroe, Being Shelley (2007).
Since 1927 Shelley has been home to the "Idaho Annual Spud Day", which is celebrated on the 3rd Saturday of September. It typically features a parade, live bands, games (such as a tug of war into a pit of mashed potatoes) and free baked potatoes.
Shelley was established in 1904. It was named for John F. Shelley, who moved to the area in 1892. He'd moved to the area intending to open a small store, and needed lumber and other supplies to build it. Since the site was some distance from the nearest existing town he asked the railroad company to make a special stop to offload the supplies he'd ordered. They consented, provided he could offload the supplies in under 20 minutes. His daughter, Lottie, wrote the following in her personal history:
On September 4, 1902 a large fire destroyed seven buildings on State Street. Only two buildings, a general merchandise store and a furniture store, were saved. Soren Yorgensen, a local Justice of the Peace and proprieter of the first hotel in Shelley recounts the experience as follows:
There were 1,201 households out of which 48.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 67.0% were married couples living together, 13.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 17.6% were non-families. 15.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.14 and the average family size was 3.50.
In the city the population was spread out with 35.6% under the age of 18, 11.5% from 18 to 24, 25.5% from 25 to 44, 16.8% from 45 to 64, and 10.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 27 years. For every 100 females there were 96.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.3 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $39,318, and the median income for a family was $41,223. Males had a median income of $32,154 versus $20,121 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,921. About 7.9% of families and 9.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.6% of those under age 18 and 2.0% of those age 65 or over.