Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

  • List Price: $45.00
  • Save: $15.51 (34%)
Only 5 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
Shelley: The Pursuit (New... has been added to your Cart
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Former library book with usual markings, stamps and stickers. Ships directly from Amazon. FREE Two-day delivery for Prime Members. Eligible for Super Saver Shipping for Non-Prime Members. 100 % Total Satisfaction Guarantee.
Trade in your item
Get a $1.28
Gift Card.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 3 images

Shelley: The Pursuit (New York Review Books) Paperback – May 31, 2003

4.4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

See all 12 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$24.11 $10.51

Best Books of the Month
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.
$29.49 FREE Shipping. Only 5 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
click to open popover

Frequently Bought Together

  • Shelley: The Pursuit (New York Review Books)
  • +
  • Shelley's Poetry and Prose (Norton Critical Edition)
Total price: $53.67
Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews


'If the art of biography was ever damned, Shelley: The Pursuit redeemed it.' New York Times 'The best biography of Shelley ever written ... The great emphasis that Mr. Holmes lays on Shelley's politics, philosophy and social activities corrects the usual view of an extraordinarily idealized, etheral, spiritualized kind of poetry combined with an extraordinarily incoherent life... He has taken the Shelley story out of the realm of myth and made it far more convincing and significant.' Sir Stephen Spender --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

RICHARD HOLMES was born in London in 1945 and educated at Churchill College, Cambridge. Shelley: The Pursuit, his first book, appeared in 1974. It won the Somerset Maugham Award and was described by Stephen Spender as "surely the best biography of Shelley ever written...an extraordinary achievement." Among Holmes’s other works are a two-volume biography of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Coleridge: Early Visions (1989) and Coleridge: Darker Reflections (1998); Dr. Johnson and Mr. Savage (1993); and Footsteps: Adventures of a Romantic Biographer (1985), which Michael Holroyd has called "a modern masterpiece which will be seen as revolutionary a work as Lytton Strachey’s Eminent Victorians." Richard Holmes is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and in 1992 was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire. He lives in London and Norwich with the novelist Rose Tremain.

New York Times best sellers
Browse the New York Times best sellers in popular categories like Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Books and more. See more

Product Details

  • Series: New York Review Books Classics
  • Paperback: 830 pages
  • Publisher: NYRB Classics; New edition (March 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590170377
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590170373
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #335,112 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
It's probably time for a new Shelley biography, despite Holmes' excellent work. I couldn't recommend this book without a number of caveats.
It was valuable in its time, for countering that Victorian view of the angelic depoliticised and emasculated Shelley. But it's still a document of its time.
There are two things that were wrong with the book even at the time it was written. One is the constant failure to mention instances of Shelley's extraordinary generosity and kindness to others. Maybe it was boring, to a 1970s writer, to mention the old women carried in out of the cold, the children fed, the money given away to strangers in hard times: but to leave most of it out badly distorts the reality of Shelley. He was no saint, but he was a remarkably kind person, and practical with it, and that central and salient characteristic is glossed over, though "gloss" is not quite the word. White's earlier biography is actually more comprehensive on this sort of thing.
The second issue is a grotesque mis-reading of the "Adelaide Shelley" affair, in which Shelley put his name down as the father of an Italian baby. Holmes invents from whole cloth an incident in which Shelley seduced the maid, turning her out of the house when she became pregnant. This is simply bizarre, as Holmes himself later acknowledged. In his next book, "Footsteps", Holmes concedes that not only was there no evidence in favour of this claim, but that it would have been completely out of character for all three of the key figures (Shelley, Claire Clairemont and the maid whose name, from memory, is something like Paola Foggi) who would have had to have been involved in Holmes' scenario.
Read more ›
4 Comments 85 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
By A Customer on June 22, 2002
Format: Paperback
How is it possible that the world's largest online bookstore doesn't stock any biography of Shelley? He was, after all, not just a poet, but a fascinating character even without taking his literary accomplishments into account. I found Mr. Holmes's great biography in an Oxford, UK bookstore. And I must say it's amazing. I can't believe it was written by a 28-year-old. The research done here is nothing short of astounding. I must say, however, that the long pages devoted to Shelley's political creed and activities can get a bit wearisome - at least for me, who was more interested in the personal and literary aspects of his life, than in the political ones - but then, I understand that this reflects my personal preferences, and admit it doesn't much deter from the book's qualities. In fact, you could say it makes it more solid and thorough, in including a part of Shelley's life that has been traditionally neglected by his biographers.
A nice feature of Mr. Holmes's work is the description of the physical places in Shelley's life - for instance, the house where he was born and the ones which he inhabited during his years in Italy. All of these had some endearing and fascinating trait, from the rolling lawns of Field Place to the sun-soaked terrace of the Casa Magni. I only wish these descriptions had been more in-depth, since it is obvious that Shelley often built strong emotional connections with the places where he lived. I look forward to reading "Footsteps", which is the account of Holmes's literary travels and research, and which is already awaiting me in my bookshelf!
Comment 30 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
As a Shelley lover I've read numerous biographies, but this will be the last one as no amount of research or writing talent can improve on this book. Richard Holmes clearly did an enormous amount of research and his attention to detail is extraordinary. His love for his subject comes through strongly yet he remains objective throughout and is not blind to Shelley's flaws. His descriptive writing also paints a fascinating picture of the interesting and tough times during which Shelley lived and his wonderful vocabulary had me reaching for my dictionary many times!. He pays as much attention to the other colourful characters in Shelley's life as he does to the poet himself. His analysis of Shelley's complex psyche is intense and I believe his perceptions are very accurate. This book impressed and excited me more than any biography I have ever read.
Comment 28 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
After reading Miranda Seymour's biography of Mary Shelley I looked around for an account of P. B. Shelley and found this excellent biography of the poet. The whole generation and family from Mary Wollstonecraft onwards makes a dynastic epic, and a good history of the social politics of a radical generation living through the Restoration. There the ethereal Shelley myth is corrected by a portrait of a radical who had the courage and will to attempt to extract himself form his aristocratic family and class to pursue a radical dream in the unforgiving world of the reactionary wake of the French Revolution. Literary portraits of Shelley still suffer the fate of the poet's work after his death when his reputation was crippled by the conservative age against he revolted. It reminds one of the fate of the Sixties in the minds of the (current) powers that be. It is significant, and mostly forgotten, that the early Queen Mab that so shocked the establishments of the times passed into the bloodstream of the left via the radical underground press, thence to influence the early labor movements and Chartists. Meanwhile the image of Shelley was sanctified by several packs of lies as the quality of genius forced its way into anthological immortality.
1 Comment 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Shelley: The Pursuit (New York Review Books)
Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway
This item: Shelley: The Pursuit (New York Review Books)