In 1810, after graduating from Eton, Shelley entered University College at Oxford for a brief but tumultuous stay. From the High Street entrance, the place looks much as it did in his time.
Shelley’s rooms (staircase one, room 2) were in the southwest corner of the main quadrangle, in what is now half of the Junior Common room, and were adjacent to the dining hall.

The rear of the rooms overlooked what is now the Fellows’ Garden.

Nearby, off staircase three, one can find the small mausoleum that houses Basil Champney’s Shelley Memorial. It was originally designed for the Protestant Cemetery in Rome, but was politely—and firmly—declined. Critics have lambasted the sculpture, asserting that the poet resembles nothing so much a slice of turbot laid out on a fishmonger’s scale. Others suggested that the figure was insufficiently manly—not surprising, considering that the model was supposedly a young girl. (Image courtesy James Jayo).


Slatter and Munday’s Printing Office at 2-3 High Street, which published Shelley’s notorious Necessity of Atheism, is no longer standing; the site is now occupied by the Lloyd’s Bank at the corner of High and Carfax. An early engraving of the establishment can be found in the New Oxford Guide (Oxford, 1818), however.

Those wishing to research Shelley’s stay in Oxford should contact Robin Darwall-Smith, the University College archivist (phone: 0865 27695, email: robin.darwall-smith@univ.ox.ac.uk ). Access to the rooms can be arranged through the Domestic Bursar’s office (phone: 0865 27625). A wonderful guide to the Bodleian Library’s collection of Shelley materials can be found in B.C. Barker-Benfield’s catalogue Shelley’s Guitar: A Bicentenary Exhibition of Manuscripts, First Editions and Relics of Percy Bysshe Shelley (Oxford: Bodleian Library, 1992).