The Shelleys’ Geneva Letters

Percy and Mary Shelley’s four letters from Geneva are a stunning evocation of the British obsession with the sublime landscape and an important recording of the weather conditions during ‘The Year without a Summer’. Published in 1817, they describe excursions taken the year before by the as yet unmarried couple around the Alps: to Mont Blanc, Lake Geneva, Chamonix, and Vevey. On this trip the Shelleys, Polidori, and Lord Byron, were often forced to stay indoors due to the constant rain and strange darkness of the climate, and it was here they wrote gothic tales, one of which was the first iteration of Frankenstein. The Letters narrate trips away from the Shelleys lakeside villa and combine awe for the natural world with reflection on the state of Europe at the end of the Napoleonic wars.

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Letters Descriptive of a Sail around the Lake of Geneva is now finished. Thanks for reading.