It would appear that at least one woman thought Byron and Shelley were total jerks:

Lord Byron and Percy Shelley were described as ‘monsters of lying, meanness, cruelty and treachery’ in a memoir by their ex-lover.

Claire Clairmont’s memoir was discovered by Cambridge graduate Dr Daisy Hay as she researched her first book in New York Public Library.

Called an ‘extraordinary discovery’ by historians, Ms Clairmont’s book portrays the poets in an entirely negative way and accuses them of ruining lives, including her own.

Ms Clairmont was the step-sister of Percy’s wife Mary Shelley and is thought to have had a child with Percy Shelley, as well as being made pregnant, and then dumped, by Byron.

She wrote: ‘Under the influence of the doctrine and belief of free love, I saw the two first poets of England… become monsters.’

Ms Clairmont wrote she hoped her memoir would show ‘what evil passion free love assured, what tenderness it dissolves; how it abused affections that should be the solace and balm of life, into a destroying scourge.

‘The worshippers of free love not only preyed upon one another but also on themselves, turning their existence into a perfect hell.’

Ms Clairmont started a relationship with Lord Byron when she was just 18, but the writer quickly grew tired of her.

After she had daughter Allegra by Byron, she was denied access to the child by the poet, who then sent his daughter to a convent where she died aged five.

Byron also questioned whether he was the child’s real father, and labelled her a brat.

The memoir also sheds some light on the odd relationship between Ms Clairmont and Percy and Mary Shelley.

[…]

Dr Hay, who discovered the memoir, added: ‘Nowhere else did Claire explicitly accuse Shelley of cruelty, or reveal so minutely the dark underside of Romantic living.

‘Nothing else quite like it survives. One might expect Claire to write about Byron in this manner, but her attack on Shelley is more unexpected.’

Another woman besides the wife Shelley ditched to run off with Mary Wollstonecraft, that is.

Cue the music:

Advertisements