In September at the London Shelley Conference 2017 I had the pleasure of listening to an expert, Professor Tom Mole, speak about one of my favourite subjects: what Victorians thought of Percy Bysshe Shelley. This is actually an extremely important question, because what the Victorians thought about Shelley set the tone for succeeding generations of readers and critics. They played a crucial and controversial role in the transmission of Shelley's poetry to the modern era. Professor Mole has done Shelleyans a great service.
In this, the third and final keynote of the Shelley Conference 2017, Professor Michael O’Neill takes us on an extraordinary excursion through Shelley’s prose. Alighting on works such as A Defense of Poetry, On Life, Address on the Death of Princess Charlotte, A Philosophical Review of Reform, On Christianity, and Speculations of Metaphysics, O’Neill conveys a deep and abiding knowledge and love of his subject. He offers common sense, close readings which bring Shelley alive and illustrate what he calls Shelley’s "drama of thought". The first 15 minutes set the scene and once O’Neill hits his stride with a magisterial reading of An Address to the People on the Death of Princess Charlotte, we are comfortably in the hands of a master who takes us on a tour of Shelley’s metaphysical, polemical and religious ruminations.
The Heart's Echo is a keynote address delivered by Professor Kelvin Everest to The Shelley Conference 2017 in London, England. In a literary tour de force, Kelvin Everest draws on a lifetime of Shelley scholarship to discern patterns and consistency in the complex poetic universe of Percy Bysshe Shelley. I found this speech to be profoundly moving; it was like watching a great painter at work on his masterpiece - I was in awe. Professor Everest's love for his subject matter shone through also in moving readings of some of Shelley's most beautiful poetry including The Cloud, When the Lamp is Shattered, Hellas and To Jane, The Recollection. In a letter to me Nora Crook, who Kelvin referred to as our "greatest living Shelley scholar", remarked, that "it was the most intense conference speech I have ever experienced." Now you too can enjoy Professor Everest's brilliant presentation.
Today I am pleased to present the first of the plenaries which were featured at The Shelley Conference 2017: Nora Crook's: Mary Shelley's Editing of Percy Bysshe Shelley. This lyrical, intimate and passionate presentation by one of the preeminent authorities on Percy and Mary Shelley provides insights into the extraordinary care with which Mary edited her husband's poetical works. I was spell bound. It is not to be missed. Grab a favourite beverage, pull up a chair and prepare to be beguiled!
The Non-Catholic Cemetery in Rome really should be in the top 10 "must visit" attractions for anyone with a literary bent. Virtually everywhere else you go will be overrun with tourists. Not here. What a wonderful place to go and reflect on the life of one of the world's great poets. Take some poetry and a bottle of wine. I took my copy of his Collected Poems and read Epipsychidion. Shelley has a worthy resting place indeed. Build a visit into your itinerary - make the pilgrimage; you will not regret it. It will be a pause that refreshes not just the body, but also the spirit - particularly if you like cats!!!