The Masque of Anarchy cover

The Masque of Anarchy

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

1. 01 Preface to the 1832 edition
2. 02 The masque of anarchy
3. 03 Shelley, 'Peterloo', and the Mask of Anarchy

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The Masque of Anarchy was Shelley's response to the Peterloo massacre at St Peter's Fields, Manchester, where 18 died and hundreds were injured, after Hussars charged into a rally for parliamentary reform. Written in Italy in 1819, the poem was not published until 1832, ten years after Shelley's death. This reading is from the first published edition with the addition of three words that were inserted in full only in later additions ('Eldon' in Stanza IV and 'Bible' and 'Sidmouth' in Stanza VI). The poem is preceded by Leigh Hunt's preface to the 1932 edition and followed by Harry Buxton Forman's 1887 lecture on the poem to the Shelley Society.