Percy Bysshe Shelley was born on August 4, 1792 in Horsham, England. He is the first of seven children of Sir Timothy Shelley and his wife Elizabeth Pilfold Shelley. When Percy was 12 he enrolled at Eton College which was a boys' boarding school. He was bullied by his classmates for his eccentric ways and dainty appearance. When Shelley turned 18 he enrolled at Oxford University. He was uninterested toward his studies and barely attended class. Percy instead spent his time writing a novel called Zastrozzi, in which he vented his early atheistic worldview. A year later, Shelley published a pamphlet called The Necessity of Atheism. It gained the attention of the university administration and he was called to appear before the College's Dean. Percy Shelley refused to take authorship of the pamphlet and it resulted in his expulsion from Oxford on 25 March 1811. Shelley was given the choice to be returned after his father intervened, on the condition that he would have to recant his avowed views. His refusal to do so led to a falling-out with his father.
Four months after being expelled, on August 28, 1811, the 19-year-old Shelley eloped to Scotland with the 16-year-old Harriet Westbrook. Percy and Harriet Shelley have a daughter named Elizabeth Lanthe who is born on June 23, 1813. Shelley was increasingly unhappy in his marriage to Harriet. He began spending more time away from home, he studied Italian with Cornelia Turner and visited the home of William Godwin.
Shelley's mentor, William Godwin, had three daughters: Fanny Imlay, Claire Clairmont, and Mary Godwin. Shelley fell madly in love with Mary. In 1814, Shelley abandoned Harriet, who was now pregnant with their son Charles, and ran away to Switzerland with Mary. They invited her stepsister Claire Clairmont along because she could speak French. They left the older sister Fanny behind, which was unfortunate because she had fallen in love with Shelley as well. The three sailed to Europe and toured the...
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