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Shelley and the Unknown Lady: A novella excerpted from The Mansfield Trilogy by [Lona Manning]

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Shelley and the Unknown Lady: A novella excerpted from The Mansfield Trilogy Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 18 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


  • "Mary [Crawford], ever convinced the world has a great destiny in store for her, remains set upon shaping Shelley into a great public poet, at which point she can take her place as his wife. However, Shelley's marital affairs, as the reader knows, are not so simple. As the author notes, Shelley's poetry and the reports of his contemporaries suggest he may have had an affair with a mysterious woman. Lona Manning has researched her subject well and found where the cracks in the historical record allow for a plausible story."    -- Historical Novel Society
  • "Shelley and the Unknown Lady is a beautifully written, passionate, riveting and mesmerizing tale about two people meeting in the most unexpected way and finding a connection. I love the mix of fact and fiction, which so perfectly entwines together leaving you in awe of just how meticulously researched [it is].."   -- Chicks Rogues and Scandals book blog
  • "I loved how the author included passages from Shelley's poems, and there is a treasure trove of information on Shelley at the end of the book, including a preview of Manning's novel, A Contrary Wind."    -- Passages to the Past book blog
  • "Always a joy to immerse myself in Lona Manning's writing, which feels so authentic to the time it portrays....  Meticulously researched too, and I almost enjoyed reading the background material as much as the story itself.     -- Mark Brownlow, author of Cake & Courtship: Mr. Bennet's Memoirs 

From the Author

The factual basis for this novella
   This novella is based on and inspired by an historical mystery about the romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Was there really a rich, noble, beautiful woman who adored him so much that she followed him throughout Europe?
  Shelley drowned in the Gulf of Spezia off the coast of Italy on July 8, 1822. In 1832, ten years after Shelley's death, his cousin Thomas Medwin published a biography of the poet, in which he revealed that Shelley had described to him an encounter with a beautiful lady who approached him in London. This lady, "young, handsome and of noble connections," had fallen in love with him as a result of reading his epic poem,
Queen Mab.  She was willing to leave her husband and children for him if he would only love her as she loved him.
   Shelley told Medwin he was deeply moved by her devotion but refused her offer. The story did not end there: Shelley claimed that the lovelorn "incognita" followed him all through Europe, and spied on him from a distance, finally meeting him again in Naples.
    So, did this lady exist? Shelley scholars hold Medwin's veracity and accuracy in low esteem. For one thing, Medwin mixed up Shelley's 1814 trip to Europe with his later departure in 1816.  Modern Shelley biographers do mention the story, if only to comment on its implausibility. Biographer N.I. White (1940) calls the story "absurd."
   While there is no proof that the unknown lady ever existed, there are some tantalizing clues. First, Shelley told not only Medwin, but also Lord Byron and possibly others, about her. Secondly, the poetry he composed in 1818 and 1819 suggests a man in despair over a relationship which had ended badly. And thirdly, even though we cannot prove the existence of a mysterious lady, there was a mysterious baby.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08GTJWY98
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Independently published (October 5, 2020)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ October 5, 2020
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 3850 KB
  • Simultaneous device usage ‏ : ‎ Unlimited
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Sticky notes ‏ : ‎ On Kindle Scribe
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 182 pages
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.4 out of 5 stars 18 ratings

About the author

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Lona Manning is a lifelong Jane Austen fan. She began writing A Contrary Wind, her award-winning debut novel, while she was teaching English in China. Her articles about Jane Austen have appeared in Jane Austen's Regency World Magazine and in Persuasions, the online journal of the Jane Austen Society of North America. Her blog, "Clutching My Pearls," can be found at

Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5
18 global ratings
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Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on October 9, 2020
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly blurs the line between fact & fiction
By Christina Boyd on October 8, 2020
Masterful storyteller Lona Manning has extensively researched Percy Shelley’s life and Jane Austen’s “Mansfield Park”, blending what we know as fact with the mysterious lore inspired by the gaps unknown to the public, and blurring historical lines to tell this remarkable what if.

Manning successfully creates a world where “Mansfield Park”’s anti-heroine Mary Crawford is the mysterious woman who loved and followed Shelley through Italy. I read this novella in almost one sitting, connecting the dots between the fictionalization romance and documented truth. "...but for my part, if a book is well written, I always find it too short."(Jane Austen) I can only echo that “Shelley and the Unknown Lady” is indeed entirely too short!

Bonus: The notes after the end of the story were delightful references.
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