Percy Bysshe Shelley was born in Horsham, Sussex, England in 1792. He studied at University College, Oxford, but his atheistic views got him expelled. Estranged from his father, he left home and began to take trips to London to spend time with famous journalist William Godwin. It was here, around the time that he published Queen Mab: A Philosophical Poem (1813), that Shelley met the Godwin’s daughter, Mary, quickly striking up a romantic relationship with her. In 1814, the two of them eloped to Switzerland, where they spent time with Lord Byron, and where the young Mary Shelley found the inspiration for her future masterpiece, Frankenstein (1818).
In 1815, the Shelleys moved back to London, where the two of them continued to write. Percy was a prolific producer of literature, and many of the verse works he penned in the last seven or eight years of his life – such as Ozymandias, Ode to the West Wind, To a Skylark, Music, When Soft Voices Die, The Cloud and The Masque of Anarchy – are now considered some of the best in the English language. He was also known for his uncompromising idealism, most notably as a fierce advocate of non-violence and vegetarianism. Shelley spent the latter part of life in Italy, where he drowned during a sailing trip in 1822, aged just 29. It wasn’t until after his passing that he developed a large following, and since his death writers as varied as George Bernard Shaw, Bertrand Russell and Karl Marx have all expressed their admiration for him.