Howard Brenton: Bloody Poetry

(1183 words)
  • Steve Barfield (University of Human Development, Suleymanyia, Iraqi Kurdistan)
  • Julie Waddington

Bloody Poetry, inspired by Richard Holmes’ biography of Shelley, contains some of Howard Brenton’s most lyrical theatre poetry. It tells the story of Shelley (known by his middle-name Bysshe), Lord Byron, Mary Shelley and Claire Clairemont in exile in Italy, upper-class revolutionaries on the run, living out their utopian ideas of free love and communal creativity away from the trappings of conventional society. The play makes explicit the contradictions at the heart of their romantic project: Shelley writes revolutionary poems, but most of Europe cannot read, and he theorises transcendence, while the practice of his life, as Byron puts it, “Doth make us all naked and bleeding and real”. Brenton said that he wrote the …

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Barfield, Steve, Julie Waddington. "Bloody Poetry". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 31 January 2005
[, accessed 26 September 2016.]