Romantic Realignments is one of the longest-running research seminars in Oxford.

Past speakers have included Marilyn Butler, Gerard Carruthers, David Chandler, Heather Glen, Paul Muldoon, Philip Shaw, Fiona Stafford and Peter Swaab, to name but a few.

All are very welcome to submit an abstract — we aim to provide a friendly 'workshop' setting in which speakers can try out new papers as well as more finished pieces, and in which lively discussion can flourish.

Held on Thursdays at 5.15pm, Seminar Room A, St Cross (English Faculty) Building.

If you would like to send us an abstract or suggest a speaker, please contact the current convenors Katherine Fender, Sarah Goode and Honor Rieley at:


Week 7 - "Creative Tension: The post-Frankenstein collaboration of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley"

Anna Mercer
(University of York)

This week*, we're delighted to be welcoming Anna Mercer - a first-year doctoral candidate from the University of York - to speak to us about the creative collaboration of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.


Percy Bysshe Shelley (PBS) and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (MWS) collaborated on the latter’s first major work, Frankenstein.  1816-1818 was a period of shared productivity for the Shelleys; as well as Frankenstein, they also produced a joint publication, History of a Six Weeks’ Tour.  Beyond this, however, the Shelleys’ literary relationship and dialogue is little considered by critics, their connection reduced to a source for biographical interpretations of their distinctly separate or individual writings.  

My research aims to study the Shelleys’ relationship in a literary sense, considering the connections between their texts, their intellectual responses to each other, and the reciprocal interchange of ideas between a literary couple that were reading and writing together from 1814-1822.  This paper explores an approach to the Shelleys’ compositions post-Frankenstein, including MWS’s second novel, Matilda, and its connections to PBS’s verse-drama The Cenci.  MWS comments on her involvement with PBS’s composition of The Cenci in 1819: ‘We talked over the arrangements of the scenes together’.  I also look at the way in which further collaborations by both Shelleys on one text (The Mask of Anarchy) can be deduced from manuscript evidence.  1819-1820 (the period during which these works were written) was a time of emotional strain and estrangement in the Shelleys’ marriage, but it is evident in their works that their intellectual engagement survived, and profoundly influenced their writings.

Please join us for another exciting and original talk - all are, as ever, most welcome at both the seminar and the wine reception.  We hope to see you then!

*Please note that the seminar this week will be held in Seminar Room B - just next door to our usual venue, Seminar Room A.

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