Byron composed on horseback, Shelley gnawed a hunch of dry bread
A visit with the legendary Romantic poets in Pisa
Welcome to the latest issue of Subtle Maneuvers. Previously: Advice on imposter syndrome, procrastination, and getting to your real work.
Lord Byron (1788–1824) and
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822)
In honor of National Poetry Month, here’s a glimpse of the everyday lives of the two legendary Romantic poets via the British writer and adventurer Edward John Trelawny, who first met the pair in Pisa in January 1822. For the next several months—until Shelley’s tragic death in a boating accident that July—Trelawny “was on the most intimate terms with both, and saw them every day.” Decades later, he published his impressions in the book Records of Shelley, Byron, and the Author, which contains a number of revealing descriptions of the poets’ personalities and habits.
Trelawny’s breakdown of Byron’s and Shelley’s daily routines is especially memorable. Here he is on Byron’s “lazy, dawdling habits”: