‘[T]he fact is’, Lady Shelley told Richard Garnett at the end of 1878, ‘that the time has certainly arrived when all the materials we possess touching on the life of Shelley & Mary must be so arranged that at our death or before it a true statement of facts may be ready to correct the misrepresentations & misstatements which are constantly being made either by ignorant or malicious people’. The result was Shelley and Mary, a compilation of the Shelleys’ letters and journals arranged chronologically with a few linking passages. Completed in 1882, it was a private production printed on handmade paper, and (allegedly) just twelve copies were bound into either three or four volumes. In each copy Lady Shelley added, in pen, a few explanatory notes. She also inserted into the first volume a handwritten account of ‘Shelley’s separation from his wife’ .
‘These Volumes’, wrote Sir Percy in a preface, ‘containing 1234 pages, have been prepared for the press by Lady Shelley, with the object of preserving from destruction the precious records in her possession. They contain all the letters and other documents of a biographical character at present in the hands of Shelley’s representatives.’ He and Lady Shelley considered the texts in Shelley and Mary a sufficient substitute for the manuscripts themselves. When preparing his life of Shelley, Edward Dowden had to work mainly from Shelley and Mary; only at the last minute did Lady Shelley grant him access to the actual papers. In his own copy of Shelley and Mary, now in the British Library, Dowden carefully noted where Lady Shelley’s transcriptions departed from the original text.
This copy of Shelley and Mary was presented by Lady Shelley to her friend and neighbour Sir Henry Taylor.
(gift of Lady Shelley, Dec. 1885) Henry Taylor; (bequest, 1886) his daughter, Ida Taylor; (bequest, 1930) Bodleian.