A.L. Rogers II
Percy Shelley was indeed a multicultural writer. Following expulsion from Oxford for his part in writing The Necessity of Atheism (1811), he traveled constantly throughout his native Britain and the European continent, living as a virtual nomad in Italy from 1818 until his death in 1822 and reading widely in English, Greek, Latin, French, Spanish, German, and Italian. He was keenly sensitive to his environment, and his greatest works were inspired by specific experiences in his travels. Excepting Queen Mab (1813), Alastor (1816), and Laon and Cythna (1817), all of his major poems were written abroad.
Shelley was raised in Sussex, the son of a member of Parliament and grandson of a baronet. The habitual nomadic roaming began in earnest when Shelley eloped to Scotland in 1811 with sixteen-year-old Harriet Westbrook. After brief stays in Edinburgh, York, and Keswick, the couple visited Dublin in 1812, where Shelley distributed pamphlets urging Catholic emancipation and Irish independence, and where he tried unsuccessfully to establish a society of radical philanthropists. The impact of this Irish visit was profound: after witnessing the misery of the Dublin poor, Shelley dedicated himself to warring against political, economic, and religious tyranny worldwide. He visited Wales twice in 1812-13, intending to reside there, but financial difficulties prevented his staying permanently. At Tremadoc he canvassed support for a land-reclamation project, and after a (possibly imagined) attempt on his life the Shelleys returned to Ireland and then for a year to England.
His second elopement, with Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin in 1814, excited outrage in England that was heightened by Harriet's 1816 suicide and a failed Chancery suit for custody of their two children in 1817. Specious accusations of romantic involvement with Mary's stepsister, Claire Clairmont, and others followed Shelley all his life, which, together with harsh reactions against his