Shelley's grave photograph
Shelley's grave (public domain photo)

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

A selective list of online literary criticism and analysis for the nineteenth-century English Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, with links to reliable biographical and introductory material and signed, peer-reviewed, and scholarly literary criticism

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Introduction & Biography

"Shelley's Ghost." A wonderful web exhibition of original manuscripts, letters, and other illuminating material for Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Shelley, from the Bodleian Library at Oxford and the New York Public Library, covering the themes Shelley and Oxford, Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin, The Young Shelley, Shelley and Mary, Frankenstein, Shelley's Notebooks, ShelleyÂ’s Last Days, Mary Shelley in England, William Godwin & Mary Shelley, Mary Shelley as Editor, The Poet's Son & Daughter-in-Law, The Shelley Sanctum.

"Percy Bysshe Shelley." A brief biography and introduction to Shelley, with text for some of his most famous poems. Academy of American Poets.

"Shelley Biography," by Prof. Glenn Everett. Also "Percy Bysshe Shelley," essays on Shelley's writing technique, themes, biography, and the historical background. The Victorian Web, ed. Prof. George P. Landow.

A Percy Bysshe Shelley time line, ed. Carl Stahmer. Romantic Circles.

"Poet's Corner - Percy Bysshe Shelley." A short introduction to Shelley from educational publisher Gale/Cengage Learning.

"Shelley Sites/Sights." Eds. Darby Lewes and Bob Stiklus. The editors have taken many photographs of places where Shelley spent the three decades of his life, from his birth at Field Place to his burial in the Protestant cemetery in Rome, many more of which survive than would be expected. A biographical sketch accompanied by photographs. Romantic Circles.

"Percy Shelley's Gothic Readings," by Prof. Douglass H. Thomson, academic web site.

Biography of Percy Bysshe Shelley, with a list of his works and recommended reading about him. A good source for reliable text for Shelley's most famous poems. Poetry Foundation.

Monroe, Harriet. "Shelley." Editor of the trailblazing magazine of modern poetry assesses Shelley's importance. Poetry 20, 4 (1922) pp. 206-214 [free at jstor].

Morton, Timothy. The Cambridge Companion to Shelley (Cambridge UP 2006). A substantial excerpt from the Introduction is available [scroll down to "look inside," then open PDF]. "Shelley would have loved the internet," notes Morton.

Sandy, Mark. "Percy Bysshe Shelley". 7 July 2001. Literary Encyclopedia. Eds. Robert Clark, Emory Elliott, Janet Todd. An introduction to the poet, from a database that provides signed literary criticism by experts in their field, and is available to individuals for a reasonably-priced subscription. Also Queen Mab [subscription service].

The Romantic Revival: Shelley. Quite old criticism and obnoxious ads, from The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907-21). Sections on Queen Mab, Alastor, Laon and Cythna, Prometheus Unbound, The Cenci, Peter Bell the Third, Shelley's Odes, Epipsychidion, Adonais, The Defence of Poetry, The Triumph of Life.

Literary Criticism, "To a Skylark"

According to "British Garden Birds," the skylark is England's most common lark, a plump-bellied bird slightly smaller than a starling. "The Skylark is renowned for its song flight. The male bird rises vertically from the ground high in to the air where it remains stationary for several minutes on fluttering wings before parachuting back down to the ground. All the time it is in the air the bird continuously sings its liquid warbling song." Recording of a skylark's song. William Wordsworth's "To a Skylark." An article in the UK Guardian, "The rare song of the skylark. Out of that hovering speck came that glorious rolling sound which has inspired more English poetry than any other birdsong except the nightingale's."

photo of a skylark

Marjarum, E. Wayne. "The Symbolism of Shelley's 'To a Skylark.'" PMLA 52, 3 (Sept. 1937) pp 911-13 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Richards, Irving T. "A Note on Source Influences in Shelley's Cloud and Skylark." PMLA 50, 2 (June 1935) pp 562-67 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Tillman-Hill, Iris. "Hardy's 'Skylark' and Shelley's." On Victorian poet (and novelist) Thomas Hardy's poem, "Shelley's Skylark," compared and contrasted with Shelley's poem. Victorian Poetry 10, 1 (Spring 1972) pp 79-83 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Wilcox, Stewart C. "The Sources, Symbolism, and Unity of Shelley's 'Skylark.'" Studies in Philology 46, 4 (Oct. 1949) pp 56-76 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Woodring, Carl R. "Dip of the Skylark." Keats-Shelley Journal 9, 1 (Winter 1960) pp 10-13 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Literary Criticism, "Ozymandias"

Bequette, K.K. "Shelley and Smith: Two Sonnets on Ozymandias." Keats-Shelley Journal 26 (1977) pp 29-31 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Freedman, William. "Postponement and Perspectives in Shelley's 'Ozymandias.'" Studies in Romanticism 25, 1 (Spring 1986) pp 63-73 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Griffiths, J. Gwyn. "Shelley's 'Ozymandias' and Diodorus Siculus." On the origin and reference in Shelley's "Ozymandias." The Modern Language Review 43, 1 (Jan. 1948) pp 80-4 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Mikics, David. "Percy Bysshe Shelley: 'Ozymandias.'" Poetry Foundation.

Parr, Johnstone. "Shelley's 'Ozymandias.'" Keats-Shelley Journal 6 (Winter 1957) pp 31-5 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Richmond, H.M. "Ozymandias and the Travelers." Keats-Shelley Journal 11 (Winter 1962) pp 65-71 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Sng, Zachary. "The Construction of Lyric Subjectivity in Shelley's 'Ozymandias.'" Studies in Romanticism 37, 2 (Summer 1998) pp 217-33 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Waith, Eugene M. "Ozymandias: Shelley, Horace Smith, and Denon." Keats-Shelley Journal 44 (1995) pp 22-8 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Literary Criticism, "Ode to the West Wind"

Pancoast, Henry S. "Shelley's Ode to the West Wind." Modern Language Notes 35, 2 (1920) pp 97-100 [free at jstor].

Swinden, Patrick. "Shelley: 'Ode to the West Wind.'" Critical Survey 6, 1/2 (Summer 1973) pp 52-8 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Fogle, Richard Harter. "The Imaginal Design of Shelley's 'Ode to the West Wind.'" ELH 15, 3 (Sept. 1948) pp 219-26 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Kapstein, I.J. "The Symbolism of the Wind and the Leaves in Shelley's 'Ode to the West Wind.'" PMLA 51, 4 (Dec. 1936) pp 1069-79 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Haworth, Helen E. "'Ode to the West Wind' and the Sonnet Form." Keats-Shelley Journal 20 (1971) pp 71-7 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Wilcox, Stewart C. "Imagery, Ideas, and Design in Shelley's 'Ode to the West Wind.'" Studies in Philology 47, 4 (Oct. 1950) pp 634-49 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Duffy, Edward. "Where Shelley Wrote and What He Wrote For: The Example of 'The Ode to the West Wind.'" Studies in Romanticism 23, 3 (Fall 1984) pp 351-77 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Havens, Raymond D. "Structure and Prosodic Pattern in Shelley's Lyrics." PMLA 65, 6 (Dec. 1950) pp 1076-87 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Literary Criticism, Shelley's Other Poetry and Drama

An, Young-Ok. "Beatrice's gaze revisited: anatomizing The Cenci." [Shelley's verse drama The Cenci] Criticism 38, 1 (Winter 1996). [Subscription service, which provides other peer-reviewed articles on The Cenci.]

Berry, Amanda. "Some of my Best Friends are Romanticists." Romanticism on the Net 36-37 (2004-2005).

Bleasdale, John. "'To Laughter': Shelley's Sonnet and Solitude." Romanticism on the Net 22 (May 2001).

Bode, Christoph. "Discursive Constructions of the Self in British Romanticism." The representation of personal identity in the poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley and William Blake. Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net 51 (2008).

Brigham, Linda. "Alastor, Apostasy, and the Ecology of Criticism." Irony and Clerisy, Romantic Circles August 1999.

Brocking, M. Elisabeth. "'Common Sympathies: The Revolt of Islam." Brocking defends the thesis that "The Revolt of Islam, Shelley's longest and most neglected major work, contains some of his most rigorous thinking on the subject of revolution, as well as showing a substantial growth in poetic skill." Rice Univ. electronic Theses and Dissertations.

Cochran, Peter. "Byron and Shelley: Radical Incompatibles." Romanticism on the Net 43 (August 2006).

Corbett, Robert M. "The Violence of the Sacred: The Economy of Sacrifice in The Cenci." On Rene Girard's theory of the violent origins of community and Shelley's The Cenci. [Shelley's poetic drama The Cenci] Romanticism on the Net 4 (Nov. 1996).

Esterhammer, Angela. "Improvisational Aesthetics: Byron, the Shelley Circle, and Tommaso Sgricci." Romanticism on the Net 43 (August 2006).

Fraistat, Neil. "Introduction: The Return of the "Wild Boy"; or, Reading Early Shelley." Romantic Circles August 1997.

Gladden, Samuel. "Shelley's Agenda Writ Large: Reconsidering Oedipus Tyrannus; or, Swellfoot the Tyrant." On Shelley's drama Oedipus Tyrannus, a satire of the Queen Caroline affair. Romantic Circles.

Gutschera, Deborah A. "The Drama of Reennactment in Shelley's 'The Revolt of Islam.'" Gutschera begins by cataloguing the negative critical assessements and weaknesses of the poem. Keats-Shelley Journal 35 (1986) pp 111-125 [first page only, jstor].

Hancock, Stephen. "'Shelley Himself in Petticoats': Joanna Baillie's Orra and Non-violent Masculinity as Remorse in The Cenci." The relationships between Shelley's non-violent politics and his poetic drama, The Cenci, and the gothic drama of Joanna Baillie. Romanticism on the Net 31 (August 2003).

Hewitt, Regina. "Landor, Shelley, and the Design of History." Hewitt takes Shelley's work as the Romantic "cognitive reference point" for evaluating Walter Savage Landor's Imaginary Conversations. Romanticism on the Net 20 (Nov. 2000).

Hoeveler, Diane Long. "Beatrice Cenci in Hawthorne, Melville and Her Atlantic-rim Contexts." Transatlantic Romanticism: Romanticism on the Net 38-39 (May-Aug. 2005).

Kaufman, Robert. "Intervention & Commitment Forever! Shelley in 1819, Shelley in Brecht, Shelley in Adorno, Shelley in Benjamin." Reading Shelley's Interventionist Poetry, 1819-1820. Romantic Circles 2001.

Kenyon Jones, Christine. "'When This World Shall Be Former': Catastrophism as Imaginative Theory for the Younger Romantics." Romanticism on the Net 24 (2001).

Kipperman, Mark. "Shelley, Adorno, and the Scandal of Committed Art." Reading Shelley's Interventionist Poetry, 1819-1820. Romantic Circles 2001.

Kipperman, Mark. "Coleridge, Shelley, Davy, and Science's Millennium" [and Samuel Taylor Coleridge; Humphry Davy]. Writes Kipperman, "There has been a general assumption among literary critics that a turn to idealism marks a rejection of science, or scientific method, or even empirical knowledge as such.(6) It remains puzzling, however, that a Shelley might retain his enthusiasm for science, even while, in the Defence of Poetry, clearly subordinating it to the guidance of imagination and moral leadership." Criticism Summer 1998 [subscription service].

Knapp, John. "The Spirit of Classical Hymn in Shelley's 'Hymn to Intellectual Beauty.'" On Shelley's experimental techniques, as exemplified in "The Hymn to Intellectual Beauty." Says Knapp, "The poem is in dialogue with the classical hymn, a genre to which tradition grants unusual structural flexibility and in which writers, including Shelley, find both a positive support and a challenge to their innovative skill." Style Spring 1999 [subscription service].

Lee, Monika H. "'Nature's Silent Eloquence': Disembodied Organic Language in Shelley's Queen Mab." Nineteenth-Century Literature 48 (Sept. 1993) [first page of article only].

Lussier, Mark. "Wave Dynamics as Primary Ecology in Shelley's Prometheus Unbound." Shelley's use of the imagery of light, and the scientific context of wave versus particle theories of light in his poetic drama Prometheus Unbound. Romanticism on the Net 16 (Nov. 1999).

McGann, Jerome J. "The Beauty of the Medusa: A Study in Romantic Literary Iconology." Part of a Romantic Circles special segment on Shelley's "On The Medusa of Leonardo da Vinci." Also in this edition are the text of the poem and informal responses and additional articles: "Ekphrasis and the Other," by W. J. T. Mitchell; and "Shelley, Medusa, and the Perils of Ekphrasis," by Grant F. Scott. Romantic Circles Electronic Editions, 5 Jan. 1998.

Mitchell, Robert. "'Here Is Thy Fitting Temple': Science, Technology and Fiction in Shelley's Queen Mab." Romanticism on the Net 21 (2001).

Morton, Timothy. "Queen Mab as Topological Repertoire." Using two topoi, 'Blood and Gold' and 'Ecotopia,' Morton focuses on the poetics rather than the politics of Queen Mab. Early Shelley: Vulgarisms, Politics, and Fractals, Romantic Circles August 1997.

Mulhallen, Jacqueline. The Theatre of Shelley (Open Book Publishers 2011). "This is the first full-length study of Shelley's plays in performance. It offers a rich, meticulously researched history of Shelley's role as a playwright and dramatist and a reassessment of his 'closet dramas' as performable pieces of theatre." The complete book is available open access through Google, or for purchase.

Pyle, Forest. "'Frail Spells': Shelley and the Ironies of Exile." Irony and Clerisy, Romantic Circles August 1999.

Quillin, Jessica K. "'An Assiduous Frequenter of the Italian Opera': Shelley's Prometheus Unbound and the Opera Buffa." [opera, poetic drama] Romantic Circles May 2005.

Roussetzki, Remy. "Theater of Anxiety in Shelley's The Cenci and Musset's Lorenzaccio" [and Alfred de Musset, poetic drama]. Criticism Winter 2000.

Scrivener, Michael. "Introduction" to Reading Shelley's Interventionist Poetry, 1819-1820. Romantic Circles 2001.

Sharp, Michele Turner. "Mirroring the Future: Adonais, Elegy, and the Life in Letters." Says Sharp, "From the outset, Adonais, the pastoral elegy that Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote for his fellow poet, John Keats, strikes an odd note. It was written at a time when pastoral elegy had become both obsolete and explicitly maligned." Criticism Summer 2000 [subscription service].

Stroup, William. "Henry Salt on Shelley: Literary Criticism and Ecological Identity." Stroup considers the implications of using an early cultural critic, Henry Salt, as a model for contemporary Ecocriticism. Romanticism and Ecology, Romantic Circles Nov. 2001.

Urquhart, Troy. "Metaphor, Transfer, and Translation in Plato's Ion: The Postmodern Platonism of Percy Bysshe Shelley's A Defence Poetry." Urquhart contends that "the Ion presents a model for the creation and transfer of meaning that is remarkably similar to that described by Shelley's A Defence of Poetry." Romanticism on the Net 31 (August 2003).

Weinberg, Alan. "'Yet in its Depth What Treasures': Shelley's Transforming Intellect and the Paradoxical Example of Coleridge." Romanticism on the Net 22 (2001).

Wroe, Ann. "Good self, bad self: The Struggle in Shelley." On Shelley's notion of the soul and his quest for "empathy, imagination and liberation." Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net 51 (2008).

Web Sites

"The Web Concordances." Ed. Rob Watt. Six concordances with wordlists: P.B. Shelley's Selected Poems; Coleridge's The Ancyent Marinere; Keats's Odes 1819; Blake's Songs of Innocence and of Experience; Wordsworth and Coleridge's Lyrical Ballads 1798; Gerard Manley Hopkins' Poems First Edition, 1918. Also software to make your own concordance.

Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net. Ed. Michael Eberle-Sinatra. An international, peer-reviewed electronic journal that has been publishing open access literary criticism since 1996.

Romantic Circles. Eds. Neil Fraistat, Steven E. Jones, and Carl Stahmer. "A refereed scholarly website devoted to the study of Romantic-period literature and culture." An innovative publication on topics in Romanticism.

"A Romantic Natural History." Ed. Ashton Nichols. The relationships between literary works and natural history in the century before Darwin, with articles on Percy Shelley and other Romantics.


Crook, Nora and Timothy Webb, eds. A review of The 'Faust' Draft Notebook: (Garland 1997). Reviewed by Michael O'Neill in Romanticism on the Net 13 (Feb. 1999).

Donovan, Jack. Reviews of The Bodleian Shelley Manuscripts Volume XXII edited by Alan M. Weinberg, and of Fair-Copy Manuscripts of Shelley's Poems in European and American Libraries edited by Donald H. Reiman and Michael O'Neill. Romanticism on the Net 22 (2001).

Everest, Kelvin and Geoffrey Matthews, eds. A review The Poems of Shelley. Volume Two: 1817-1819 (Longman 2000). Reviewed by Lisa Vargo in Romanticism on the Net 24 (2001).

Fraistat, Neil. "The Workshop of Shelley's Poetry." Fraistat describes the editing of Shelley's text for The Complete Poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley. "Whereas Matthews and Everest carried the editing of Shelley's poetry as far as it could go using the chronological, reader-centered principles championed by the Longman series, Don Reiman and I have undertaken a quite different task. We are producing an authorially governed, historically focused, and text-centered edition that highlights the production, reception, and transmission of his poetry. Our approach, based on Forman's example, has not been pursued seriously since 1880 and we believe it is best designed not only to address the still problematic textual history of Shelley's work but also to make effective use of the wealth of new textual evidence made available." Romanticism on the Net 19 (August 2000).

Reiman, Donald H. and Neil Fraistat, eds. About The Complete Poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley (Johns Hopkins UP). Vol. 1, 2000. Vol. 2, 2005.

Reiman, Donald H. and Neil Fraistat, eds. "The Devil's Walk." An annotated presentation of Shelley's poem "The Devil's Walk" demonstrates a way to use electronic editions for presenting textual and contextual notes. Romantic Circles.

Reiman, Donald H. and Neil Fraistat, eds. A review of The Complete Poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Vol. 1 (2000). Reviewed by Michael O'Neill in Romanticism on the Net 20 (Nov. 2000); Review of Vol. 2 (2005) by Timothy Morton in Romanticism on the Net 43 (Aug. 2006).

Rogers, Neville, ed. A review of The Complete Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley. Vol. I, 1802-1813 (Oxford UP 1972). Reviewed by Robert C. Casto in The Review of English Studies 25 (May 1974).

Shelley's notebooks in the Bodleian Library, compiled by Tatsuo Tokoo, at Romantic Circles.

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