Author(s): Daisy Hay
'The web of our Life is of mingled Yarn' - John Keats. In "Young Romantics", Daisy Hay shatters the myth of the Romantic poet as a solitary, introspective genius, telling the story of the communal existence of an astonishingly youthful circle. The fiery, generous spirit of Leigh Hunt, radical journalist and editor of "The Examiner", took centre stage. He bound together the restless Shelley and his brilliant wife Mary, author of "Frankenstein"; Mary's feisty step-sister Claire Clairmont, who became Byron's lover and the mother of his child; and, Hunt's charismatic sister-in-law Elizabeth Kent. With authority, sparkling prose and constant insight Daisy Hay describes their travels in France, Switzerland and Italy, their artistic triumphs, their headstrong ways, their grievous losses and their devastating tragedies. "Young Romantics" explores the history of the group, from its inception in Leigh Hunt's prison cell in 1813 to its ultimate disintegration in the years following 1822. It encompasses tales of love, betrayal, sacrifice and friendship, all of which were played out against a background of political turbulence and intense literary creativity. This smouldering turmoil of strained relationships and insular friendships would ferment to inspire the drama of Frankenstein, the heady idealism of Shelley's poetry, and Byron's own self-loathing, self-loving public persona. Above all the characters are rendered on the page with marvellous vitality, and this is a gloriously entrancing and revelatory read, the debut of a young biographer of the highest calibre and enormous promise.
Like Amanda Foreman with Georgiana, Daisy Hay is set to revitalise the great British tradition of literary biography For fans of Stella Tillyard's groundbreaking Aristocrats, Fiona McCarthy's Eric Gill (not without its own hints of incest either) and Jenny Uglow's The Lunar Men Winner of the Rose Mary Crawshay Prize
Daisy Hay was born in Oxford in 1981. She has a PhD in English Literature from New Hall, Cambridge, where she also gained a First Class Honours Degree, and an MA in Romantic and Sentimental Literature from the University of York. Between 2006 and 2009 she was a Bye-Fellow at New Hall, and in 2009-10 she was the Alistair Horne Fellow at St Antony's College, Oxford. She has written for various newspapers and literary magazines including the Observer, the Times Literary Supplement and Slightly Foxed, and is a contributor to the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Shelley Studies. Young Romantics, her first book, was awarded the Rose Mary Crawshay Prize by the British Academy, and was highly commended by the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize.