This two-volume set presents and contextualizes major manuscripts in the Carl H. Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle, now at the New York Public Library.
These final volumes of Shelley and His Circle include a retrospective centered on the young Shelley, featuring unpublished letters from 1809–1810, a memorandum book he kept at Eton, his libelous verse-letter about his parents, and other manuscripts predating his Italian exile. This backward glance also includes the only known exchange between Mary Wollstonecraft and Catharine Macaulay, Godwin’s first letter to Malthus, and a partial draft of Mary Shelley’s Proserpine, emended by her husband. The chronology of the Italian period begins in July 1820 with the press copy of Byron’s verse drama Marino Faliero and continues through December, a period of political ferment when the letters of Leigh Hunt, the Shelleys, Byron, and Countess Teresa Guiccoli reflect preoccupation with Queen Caroline’s “trial” for adultery in Britain and brewing revolutions in Italy. Other highlights are two important eyewitness accounts: a young British officer’s reminiscences of Shelley in 1814 and Henry Reveley’s testimony about the Shelley Circle. Four substantial essays along with detailed commentaries provide context for the 100 manuscripts.