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Exhibition timeline

  • 1791

    First meeting of Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin.

    See Godwin's diary for the day he met Mary.

  • 1792

    Birth of Percy Bysshe Shelley.

    Watch a video of Shelley's baby-rattle.

  • 1796

    Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin become lovers.
  • 1797

    Marriage of Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin. Birth of their daughter Mary. Death of Mary Wollstonecraft shortly afterwards.

    See Mary Wollstonecraft's last three notes to Godwin.

  • 1798

    Godwin publishes a memoir of Mary Wollstonecraft and an edition of her posthumous works.

    More about the Memoirs of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.

  • 1810

    Shelley enters University College, Oxford.
  • 1811

    Shelley publishes The Necessity of Atheism and is expelled from Oxford University. Soon afterwards he marries Harriet Westbrook.

    Learn more about The Necessity of Atheism.

  • 1812

    Shelley meets William Godwin.
  • 1814

    Shelley elopes with Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin. They tour the Continent (accompanied by Claire Clairmont, Mary's step-sister).

    Read Shelley's and Mary's elopement journal.

  • 1816

    Shelley, Mary Shelley, Claire Clairmont and Lord Byron spend the summer by Lake Geneva. Mary conceives of Frankenstein.
  • 1818

    Shelley and Mary leave England for Italy. Death of their daughter Clara, aged one.
  • 1819

    Death of Shelley's and Mary's son William, aged three-and-a-half. Birth of their son Percy Florence.

    More about Percy Florence Shelley.

  • 1822

    Death of Claire Clairmont's and Lord Byron's daughter, Allegra, aged five. Shelley drowns off the Italian coast.

    Find out more about Shelley's last days.

  • 1823

    Mary Shelley returns to England with Percy Florence. A year later she published an edition of Shelley's posthumous works, withdrawn after Shelley's father Sir Timothy objects.

    More about Mary Shelley, editor.

  • 1836

    Death of William Godwin. Mary Shelley agreed to write his autobiography (never completed).

    Read part of Mary's draft.

  • 1839

    Mary Shelley publishes editions of Shelley's poetical works and prose.

    More about Mary Shelley, editor.

  • 1844

    Death of Sir Timothy Shelley. Percy Florence inherits the baronetcy.
  • 1848

    Sir Percy Shelley marries Jane St. John (née Gibson).
  • 1851

    Death of Mary Shelley. Sir Percy and Lady Shelley live at Boscombe Manor, near Bournemouth, where Lady Shelley creates a 'Sanctum' of the family manuscripts and relics.

    Objects from the Shelley Sanctum.

  • 1882

    Sir Percy and Lady Shelley privately print transcripts of the Shelley manuscripts as Shelley and Mary.

    More about Shelley and Mary.

  • 1889

    Death of Sir Percy Shelley.
  • 1893

    Lady Shelley opens the Shelley Memorial, University College, Oxford. She gives one third of the family archive to the Bodleian Library, but forbids access to the correspondence until 1922. Selected items are put on public display in the Library.
  • 1899

    Death of Lady Shelley. Bequeaths two thirds of the family archive to her husband's cousin John Shelley (later Sir John Shelley-Rolls). The final third she bequeaths to her two eldest grandsons (by adoption), Shelley Scarlett and Robert Scarlett, later the 5th and 6th Barons Abinger.
  • 1946

    Sir John Shelley-Rolls gives the Bodleian the majority of his Shelley papers (including many of the poet's notebooks). The remainder reaches the Bodleian by his bequest after the death of his wife 1961.
  • 1974

    The 8th Baron Abinger deposits his collection on loan at the Bodleian Library from 1974 to 1993.
  • 2004

    The Bodleian Library purches the final part of the family archive (including the manuscripts of Frankenstein) from the 9th Baron Abinger.

    More information on the Abinger collection.

Object details

Bodleian Libraries

Broad Street

Oxford

OX1 3BG