A ‘Lives of the Poets’ for our times, Young Romantics shatters the myth of the Romantic poet as a solitary, introspective genius, telling the story of the communal existence of an astonishingly youthful circle. The fiery, generous spirit of Leigh Hunt, radical journalist and editor of The Examiner, took centre stage. He bound together the restless Shelley and his brilliant wife Mary, author of Frankenstein; Mary’s feisty step-sister Claire Clairmont, who became Byron’s lover and the mother of his child; and Hunt’s charismatic sister-in-law Elizabeth Kent. These men and women were characterised by talent, idealism, and youthful ardour; qualities which shaped and informed their politically oppositional stances – as did their chaotic family arrangements, which often left the young women, despite their talents, facing the consequences of the men’s philosophies.
Young Romantics follows the group’s exploits from its inception in Hunt’s prison cell in 1813 to its disintegration after Shelley’s premature death in 1822. It is an enthralling tale of love, betrayal, sacrifice, and friendship, all of which played out against a background of political turbulence and intense literary creativity.