Contents Index

rank, descent, and noble blood

Mary Shelley had herself to have been highly conscious of these attributes. Byron, even if he inherited his title almost by accident, was a member of the House of Lords and was always addressed as Lord Byron by the Shelleys. Percy Bysshe Shelley, although somewhat down the hierarchical list of aristocracy, was the elder son of a baronet and would therefore have expected to inherit the title of his father, Sir Timothy Shelley. His family had an illustrious "descent," with Sir Philip Sidney being among his ancestors. On the other side, however, neither William Godwin nor Mary Wollstonecraft had any pretensions to lineage, and as middle-class radicals they were committed to a classless society without false hierarchies.