The Mask of Anarchy was launched at Keats House on 21st June 2016 with a superb reading of Shelley's poem by Jane Weir, Dawn Wood and Sarah Roby.
Shelley’s poem ‘The Mask of Anarchy’ written in 1819 is often regarded as the ‘greatest political poem ever written in English’ and was not published until thirty years after his death. This new Templar pamphlet republishes Shelley’s poem with a specially-commissioned cover by Pop Artist Colin Self alongside a selection of political poems from Templar poets, celebrating the freedom of expression open to modern artists.
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) was a major English Romantic poet whose contemporaries included Lord Byron, Leigh Hunt, Thomas Love Peacock, John Keats and his second wife, Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein.
He published a novel at Eton College, at Oxford he regarded the dons as ‘very dull people’ and published a pamphlet, The Necessity of Atheism, which resulted in his expulsion along with his friend Thomas Hogg.
His radical views emerged from his school years, and his friends, included his father-in-law, the philosopher William Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft, Lord Byron, his publisher Leigh Hunt and his wife Mary Shelley who contributed to his visionary utterances of radical ideas through his poetry.
‘The Mask of Anarchy’ reflects Shelley’s anxiety that apathy among ‘the masses’ will lead to tyranny and oppression.