From Publishers Weekly
Long before the lost generation or '60s rock poets, there was a 19th-century movable feast of interlinked English poets and thinkers that was even more fascinating and combustible. Cambridge Ph.D. Hay, in her first book, delves with scholarly relish into the unorthodox lifestyles and fluid (including quasi-incestuous and incestuous) households of several key figures: vegetarians Percy and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley; Mary Shelley's stepsister Jane, aka Claire Clairmont; Lord Byron; John Keats; and the little-read today but central revolutionary, Leigh Hunt. The key years are 1813 to 1822, effectively terminating with Shelley's drowning at sea not long after Keats's death from tuberculosis. New here is Claire's autobiographical fragment—archived in the New York Public Library—in which she rakes the libertarians Shelley and Byron, whose daughter she bore, over her emotional coals. Well handled is the so-called summer of Frankenstein, and how, over the nine years Hay chronicles, the boundaries of monogamy were pushed to the breaking point. Although Hay is passionate about her subject, her writing is unexceptional and monotone: she sticks to the descriptive rather than the analytic. 16 pages of b&w illus. (May 4)
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[Hay] is a skilled and surefooted chronicler. In firm, clear, often elegant prose, she narrates the main events in the lives of her subjects from 1813, when they began to coaslesce around Hunt in London, till 1822, when Shelley drowned near Livorno, Italy. (Ben Downing, The New York Times Book Review)
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By assembling a great cast and exploring their high dramas, the author has given us a feast of a book. (Edna O'Brien)
The originality of this engrossing narrative comes from Daisy Hay's unusual focus on the passionate allegiances and literary influences between her characters. With great skill she weaves in and out of the lives of these poets, novelists, and philosophers, their husbands, wives, lovers, and children, exploring the dual nature of the creative impulse, its individuality, and the stimulus of kindred spirits. It is a most impressive achievement. (Michael Holroyd)
This erudite volume brings the second-generation Romantics entertainingly and vividly to life. (Duncan Wu)
Young Romantics is an enthralling tale of love, betrayal, sacrifice, and friendship played out against a backdrop of political turbulence and intense literary creativity. And "Hay's account of the passionate and messy lives of her Romantics is vivid, picturesque, and finely told. (Richard Eder, The Boston Globe)
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.