I recently finished the spellbindingly good Romantic Outlaws by Charlotte Gordon, which I bought impulsively whilst browsing in Cambridge.
I read it almost as fast as I would read a fiction book, which is an idea of just how well-written the narrative was. But this is not a review.
I think that the reason Romanticism is still just as intriguing to us today as the main people involved in it were to their public at the time because it is still scandalous.
It is still rather outlandish. The antics of Lord Bryon and sometimes Percy Shelley (and Mary of course, considering the time period she existed within) still grab attention today. They are oftentimes ridiculous, but, more importantly, they leave us wanting to know more.
From whether Mary had sex with Percy for the first time on her mother Mary Wollstonecraft’s grave to whether Claire Clairmont did have a child with Percy and of course, the numerous lovers the changing group were rumoured to have taken, the antics of the intertwined Romantics stirred up so much speculation that a good deal of it is still considered to be the stuff of great dramas (or, in modern terms, a ridiculous convoluted soap opera!)
These original Romantics have provided a wonderful aesthetic for the Romantics of today and a solid foundation for many biographers to try and tackle the tangled web of their lives. In short, it is sensationalism that has allowed the Romantics to live this long. And may they live on for a while yet!