‘This light was lent to me for a very short period, and is now extinguished for ever!’ (William Godwin on Mary Wollstonecraft)

Explore the lives and relationships of one of our greatest literary families

Video introduction from the curator

What is the exhibition about?

Few families enjoy such a remarkable reputation for their contribution to the literature and intellectual life of Britain as the Godwins and the Shelleys. Shelley's Ghost: Reshaping the Image of a Literary Family explores how the reputation of this great literary family was shaped by the selective release of documents and manuscripts into the public domain. It also provides a fascinating insight into the real lives of a family that was blessed with genius but marred by tragedy.

Shelley's Ghost exhibition book

Shelley's Ghost book cover

by Stephen Hebron and Elizabeth C. Denlinger

£19.99 | ISBN 9781851243396

Video competition

Why do the works of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley, William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft still appeal to us today? We are running this video competition in the hope of finding out.

Enter the competition

Detailed information


Shelley's Ghost: Reshaping the Image of a Literary Family

This exhibition is a collaboration between the Bodleian Libraries and the New York Public Library. It unites two great collections to chart the history and reputation of a great literary family that was blessed with genius but marred by tragedy.

Bodleian Libraries

Broad Street