Catherine Peters

Experiments In Living

Young Romantics: The Shelleys, Byron and Other Tangled Lives


Bloomsbury 364pp £20 order from our bookshop

In her ambitious and enthralling first book, Daisy Hay takes the dynamics of friendship among the second-generation Romantics as her unifying theme. She explodes the myth of the isolated, autophagous poet, showing how these predominantly urban writers (scornfully dismissed by a destructive article in Blackwood’s as ‘the Cockney School’, though they were not Cockneys and never a school) drew strength from each other for new and sometimes dangerous experiments in art and living. Hay sums up the importance of their association well: ‘sociability – the self-conscious enactment of friendship – was transformed into a weapon in a battle for liberal survival.’

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