|Eton College, in which Shelley enrolled
in 1804, was of course easy to find, and most
of the exteriors we photographed would have
been familiar to him. Henry V still maintains
his post in the central quadrangle, and
cloistered areas still are used by Eton
|The room in which Shelley attended
classes is also much the same, although there
would have been far fewer busts along the
walls. One can still see Shelley’s
autograph carved into the woodwork.
|Outside the quadrangles lie the famed
playing fields of Eton, and two sites that
would have been especially important to
Shelley. In the area where the "Wall Game" (a
sort of penny-pitch using a small ball) was
played, two sections of the wall come
together on a high rise of lawn that forms a
natural amphitheater. This is where Eton
students used to engage in a sort of trial by
combat, working out their differences through
fisticuffs (so rough that at least one child,
a Shaftsbury heir, later died).
Shelley, a strange-looking child who had
arrived in Eton at mid-term and who refused
to participate in such traditional
activities as serving older boys, had been
singled out for abuse from the time he
arrived. Today the wall is much as Shelley
would have remembered it, with the
exception of the added gate closest to the
Further afield, the Eton woods afforded
the boy more freedom than he had known
since leaving Field Place.
|Today the grounds are carefully manicured
into a park, but in Shelley’s day they
would have been far wilder and more Romantic.
The young poet spent hours rambling here,
sometimes walking and talking with friends,
and pausing to rest on a bench—a copy
of which still stands—that afforded a
lovely view of the Thames.
|For those wishing to do Shelley research
at Eton College, a wonderful contact is the
College Librarian, Michael Meredith. He can
be reached through his Administrative
Assistant, Nick Baker at 01753 671221 (fax:
01753 801507, email: email@example.com).
The College has a wonderful collection of
Shelleyana, including personal memorabilia,
autograph copies of his textbooks,
biographies, and prints.