The four-year-old Allegra writes from the convent of San Giovanni Battista in Bagnacavallo near Ravenna, where Byron had placed her five months earlier. Two weeks after writing the letter she received a visit not from her father, but from Shelley, who wrote to Mary afterwards: ‘… she has a contemplative seriousness which mixed with her excessive vivacity which has not yet deserted her has a very peculiar effect in a child. She is under very strict discipline as may be observed from the immediate obedience she accords to the will of her attendants – this seems contrary to her nature; but I do not think it has been obtained at the expense of much severity’.
Shelley later tried (unsuccessfully) to persuade Byron to have Allegra removed from convent, and in 1822 Claire Clairmont hatched unlikely schemes to ‘rescue’ her, but in April that year Allegra became feverish and died shortly afterwards, aged five years and three months.
Che Fá il mio Amato Pappá? io sto cosí bene, e tanto contenta che non posso se non ringraziare il sempre Caro mio Pappa che mi procuró un tanto bene da cui imploro la sua Benedizione, la sua Allegrina lo saluta di cuore.
[What is my Dear Papa doing? I am so well, and so happy that I cannot but thank my ever dear Papa who brings me so much happiness and whose blessing I ask for. Your little Allegra sends her loving greetings.]
George Gordon, Lord Byron; ? (1821) Percy Bysshe Shelley; ? (1822) Mary Shelley; ? (1851, bequest) Sir Percy and Lady Shelley; (bequest, 1889) Lady Shelley; (bequest, 1899) Shelley Scarlett (later 5th Baron Abinger) and/or Robert Scarlett (later 6th Baron Abinger); (bequest, 1917) Robert Scarlett, 6th Baron Abinger; (bequest, 1927) Hugh Scarlett, 7th Baron Abinger; (bequest, 1943) James Scarlett, 8th Baron Abinger; (bequest, 2002) James Scarlett, 9th Baron Abinger; (purchase, 2004) Bodleian.