Daisy Hay's new book "Young Romantics" explores the intertwining lives of Shelley, Byron, Keats and their cohort, detailing "a web of lives, within which friendships fade, allegiances shift, and nothing remains static for very long." In honour of this tremendous work of scholarship, we've plucked five tidbits from the pages of Hay's tome—a few things you might not have known about your favourite poets and thinkers of the 19th century.
1. At age 22 Shelley insisted on a diet of bread, butter and "a sort of spurious lemonade" until a friend, Thomas Love Peacock, convinced him to start eating meat again. Shelley's complexion improved.
2. The writer John William Polidori developed a serious crush on 18-year-old Mary Wollstonecraft and "jumped from a wall in an effort to impress her, spraining his ankle badly in the process." A few days later she told him that she thought of him mostly as a little brother.
3. Lord Byron enjoyed singing Albanian songs consisting of "strange, wild howls" while boating with Shelley in order to exacerbate their "contest with the elements."
4. Upon his release from Surrey Gaol for libel charges, Leigh Hunt, a critic and writer, created for himself a new study "which bore a startling resemblance to his prison bower." His books, busts, flowers and piano were all carefully transported from his prison cell. "His new room was lily- rather than rose-themed, but in all other respects it was similar to his prison accommodation."
5. Leigh Hunt gave John Keats the nickname of "Junkets", which Keats hated. "What has become of Junkets," Hunt wondered to Charles Cowden Clarke in the summer of 1817. "I suppose Queen Mab has eaten him."