A Writer's Tale, Literary Liaisons

A Writer’s Tale- Percy Shelley’s Heart

This week’s entry of A Writer’s Tale features a story that is less quirky and more macabre. It is also a special bonus edition as it involves not one but two of my favorite writers. Percy Bysshe Shelley was one of the great poets of the Romantic Age. He is known for a great many works but you’ll indulge me in recognizing one of my own personal favorites Ozymandias. Percy was married to another quite famous writer whose work is well known to all of you. Mary Shelly, who authored one of the most famous novels ever written, Frankenstein.
Our story begins, unfortunately, with Percy’s death. In July of 1822, he was out sailing with two others when their schooner was caught in a storm. All three died, though their fates were not immediately known. It took several weeks for Percy’s body to wash ashore. He was just short of 30 when he died.
In a small ceremony (attended by Lord Byron who has appeared in these pages before), Percy was cremated. But strangely, in a twist befitting one of his poems, Percy’s heart refused to burn. A friend (not Lord Byron) snatched the heart out of the flames and gave it to Percy’s widow Mary.
It was said that Mary kept the heart with her at all times in a silken shroud. In 1852, a year after her death and 30 years after Percy’s, the heart was found in the drawer of Mary’s writing desk.
How’s that for romantic?

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