The action of the early portion of the novel is divided between Cumberland, Windsor, and London, following to some extent the traditional rhythm of town and country existence in the nineteenth century, the sporting, social, and artistic "season," which was tied to the political calendar. The aristocracy and gentry usually came into London from country estates in the winter, in anticipation of the opening of Parliament.
Across a footbridge from Windsor is the town of Eton, home of Eton College (est. 1440), the largest and most prestigious of England's public schools. Percy Shelley attended Eton, and in 1829 Mary Shelley sought to have their son Percy attend as well (but her father-in-law, Sir Timothy Shelley, refused).