Byron and Shelley Excoriated from the Grave

Author Daisy Hay while

Claire Clairmont by Aemilia Curran, 1819

researching her book Young Romantics, about the Shelleys, Byron and their “tangled lives” found a fragment of a memoir by Claire Clairmont (1798-1879), Mary Shelley’s young, head-strong step-sister. Clairmont, perhaps most famous for describing Byron as “Mad, bad, and dangerous to know” was in her teens when Byron got her pregnant and then dumped her. Dr. Hay is including the fragment, written by Clairmont when she was in her seventies and looking back at her pursuit of Byron, and her journeys with the Shelleys. Clairmont says of her time with the two poets that “Under the influence of the doctrine and belief of free love, I saw the two first poets of England… become monsters.” You can read more here.

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She plays o' the viol-de-gamboys, speaks three or four languages word for word without book, hath all the good gifts of nature, knows a hawk from a handsaw, and can see a church by daylight. The rest is subject to fancy.

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