The Heart's Echo


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.

Everest tells us that Shelley's poetical development was an "immensely complex consolidation of what's gone before: the journeys of his mind had been on, overlaying and underpinning each new departure." He then sets himself the task of discerning pattern and consistency in what appears to be the chaotic poetic universe of Percy Bysshe Shelley.  He notes, "The onward rush of Shelley's life is characterized by elements that repeat, echoingly." He points to what he calls Shelley's "ubiquitous tendency to return again and again to certain poetic conceptions, images, ideas and specific words which is relatively consistent. This quality knits together all of his output from Queen Mab to The Triumph of Life."

Join Professor Everest as he takes on a poignant journey through the mind of Percy Bysshe Shelley.


What follows is an edited version of the CFP prepared by conference organizer, Anna Mercer for The Shelley Conference 2017. You can read the original version here.

On 14 and 15 of September 2017 a two-day conference in London, England celebrated the writings of two major authors from the Romantic Period: Percy Bysshe Shelley (PBS) and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (MWS).

There is a continuing scholarly fascination with all things 'Shelley' which is due in part to the
unprecedented access we now have to their texts (in annotated scholarly editions) and manuscripts (presented in facsimile and transcript). The Shelleys' works are more readily available than ever before. However somewhat disturbingly, there is no annual or even semi-regular conference dedicated to PBS (comparable to those that exist for other Romantic writers). It was this fact that prompted Anna Mercer and Harrie Neal to organise The Shelley Conference 2017.

Shockingly, it has taken almost 200 years for detailed, comprehensive editions of PBS's works to appear.  I believe he is the only major poet in the English literary canon to be so woefully under served. However, two editions are nearing completion: The Complete Poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley edited by Donald Reiman, Neil Fraistat and Nora Crook; and The Poems of Shelley edited Kelvin Everest, G.M. Matthews, Michael Rossington and Jack Donovan.  There is much, therefore, to celebrate. In addition there is the astonishing Shelley-Godwin Archive which will provide, according to the website, "the digitized manuscripts of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, William Godwin, and Mary Wollstonecraft, bringing together online for the first time ever the widely dispersed handwritten legacy of this uniquely gifted family of writers." It must be seen to be believed.

Conferences at Gregynog in 1978, 1980, and 1992 and the Percy Shelley Bicentennial Conference in New York in 1992 have provided a wonderful legacy for future Shelleyan academics, and it is in the spirit of these events The Shelley Conference 2017 was undertaken. MWS is included in this new conference, as she also does not have her own regular academic event. However, the recent conference 'Beyond Frankenstein's Shadow' (Nancy, France, 2016) focused specifically on MWS, and the emphasis placed on her work at the 'Summer of 1816' conference (Sheffield, 2016) indicated that her role on the main stage of Romanticism is increasingly appreciated.

It is for these reasons that the 'Shelley' of the conference title was left ambiguous. The Shelleys are increasingly seen as a collaborative literary partnership, and modern criticism reinforces the importance of reading their works in parallel. The nuances of this, however, are far from simple, and this statement does not imply there is anything like a sense of either consistent 'unity' or 'conflict' when considering the Shelleys' literary relationship. This is the kind of issue which was explored at The Shelley Conference 2017 by speakers such as the legendary Nora Crook.

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Multiple parallel panel sessions have allowed the organizers to present a wide range of exciting papers delivered by researchers from the UK, Europe, and beyond, as well as three featured presentations by eminent Shelley scholars: Kelvin Everest, Nora Crook and Michael O'Neill. These are some of the "superstars" of the Shelleyan world.