Shelley’s Poetical Essay

Oxford Committee for Famine Relief

This Treasure is paired with: Oxford Committee for Famine Relief (Responses to war)

This poem against war and tyranny was thought lost (or even fictitious) for nearly 200 years. It was written by Shelley when he was an 18-year-old student at University College, Oxford, and published to raise money for an imprisoned journalist. The pamphlet – this is the only known copy – came to light in 2006, and in 2016 was added to the Library’s collections as its 12 millionth book. Shelley was expelled from Oxford shortly after writing the Poetical Essay, for distributing a pamphlet on atheism.

More information & full text

You can read the full pamphlet and download the PDF, text and images from the Libraries’ Poetical Essay website.


This Treasure isn’t currently on display in the Weston Library.