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Bloomsbury Project

Bloomsbury Institutions


Shelley Society


It was inaugurated by F. J. Furnivall and others on 1 January 1886 for 10 years only as a society to honour the memory of Percy Bysshe Shelley, by publications, performances, and discussions (Boston Evening Transcript, 12 April 1886)

Its publications would be reprints of his rarer works, contemporary reviews and articles (“chiefly abusive”) and more recent scholarship, and its own Transactions (papers read at the Society’s meetings) (Boston Evening Transcript, 12 April 1886)

The Society also intended to perform one of Shelley’s plays each year (Boston Evening Transcript, 12 April 1886); their first performance, The Cenci, was comprehensively rubbished in The Times of 18 May 1886

It was still meeting in November 1891, when William E. A. Axon read a paper on Shelley’s vegetarianism, which was subsequently published by the Society

According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, it was bankrupted in 1892 by Thomas J. Wise’s ambitious and fraudulent programme of publications (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)

It no longer exists

What was reforming about it?

It gave the first public performance of Shelley’s banned play The Cenci

Where in Bloomsbury

Its meetings were held from the beginning in University College on Gower Street, and several local residents were members of the Committee, including Rev. Stopford Brooke, who gave the inaugural address on 10 March 1886, and W. M. Rossetti, the first Chairman of the Society (Boston Evening Transcript, 12 April 1886)

Website of current institution

It no longer exists

Books about it

Newman I. White, ‘Shelley’s Debt to Alma Murray,’ Modern Language Notes, vol. 37, no. 7 (November 1922)

Newman I. White, ‘The Shelley Society Again,’ Modern Language Notes, vol. 39, no. 1 (January 1924)

The Society published its own Papers and Note-Book in 1888; copies are held in the British Library


None found

This page last modified 13 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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