Shelley’s Ghost. Exhibition at the Bodleian Library

Posted by Glennis Byron on November 30, 2010 in News tagged with , , , , ,

Portrait by Richard Rothwell thought to be of Mary Shelley

Shelley’s Ghost: Reshaping the Image of a Literary Family

Bodleian Library, Oxford

3 December 2010 – 27 March 2011

The Bodleian Library presents a major exhibition dedicated to one of the most renowned literary families in Britain: Percy Bysshe Shelley, his wife Mary Shelley, and Mary’s parents, William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft. Spanning three generations of literary figures, the exhibition charts the history of a family blessed with genius but marred by tragedy.

Manuscript of Frankenstein

The Shelley family gave the first two parts of their family archive to the Bodleian in 1893-4 and 1946-61, whilst the final part — known as the Abinger papers — was bought by the Library in 2004 through a public appeal. The exhibition will showcase letters, literary manuscripts, rare printed books and pamphlets, portraits and relics. Star items will include Shelley’s own notebooks, a letter of John Keats, William Godwin’s diary and the original manuscripts of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The exhibition will also feature treasures lent by the Pforzheimer Collection of the New York Public Library, many of which have never been on public display in the UK.

Accompanying the exhibition is a new book by Stephen Hebron (author) and Elizabeth C. Denlinger (afterword), Shelley’s Ghost: Reshaping the Image of a Literary Family

Here is the product description from

It is difficult to think of a family more endowed with literary genius than the Shelley family—from the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and his wife, novelist Mary Shelley, to Mary’s parents, William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft—all were authors in their own right. Using extensive archival material, Shelley’s Ghost explores the making of this remarkable literary family’s reputation.

Drawing on the Bodleian Library’s outstanding collection of letters, poetry manuscripts, rare printed books, portraits, and other personalia—including Shelley’s working notebooks, Keats’s letters to Shelley, William Godwin’s diary, and the original manuscript of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein—Stephen Hebron charts the history of this talented yet troubled family. After Percy Bysshe Shelley’s drowning in 1822, Mary published various manuscripts relating to both her husband’s and her father’s lives, and passed this historical legacy to her son, Sir Percy Florence Shelley and his wife, Lady Jane Shelley. As guardians of the archive until they bequeathed it to the Bodleian in 1892, Sir Percy Florence and Lady Jane helped shape the posthumous reputations of these writers. An afterword by Elizabeth Denlinger of the New York Public Library offers an additional perspective, exploring material relating to the Shelley family that slipped beyond the family’s control.’

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