Paul Foot

All through his short life Shelley loved bizarre happenings and unpredictable human behaviour, so he would have enjoyed himself a lot at Windsor Girls School on 22 June. About a hundred and fifty people came together to celebrate his work. Was this an academic gathering, a place where scholars could show off their latest pedantry to their peers? Not at all. It was organised by Val Price, who works in computers, and Brian Edgar, a secondary-school teacher, on behalf of the Windsor and Maidenhead Labour Party. The idea came to Val Price about a year ago. Shelley, she knew, had lived at Marlow. Should not the Labour Party organise a function there to celebrate his contribution to British radical ideas over nearly two centuries? A committee was promptly set up. They couldn’t find a suitable room in Marlow, so they settled for Windsor Girls School, and fixed on 22 June as the anniversary of Shelley’s drowning at the age of 29.

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[*] Collins, 364 pp., £12.95, 6 June, 0 00 217170.