Thursday 13 August 2009

And Shall Trelawny Die?

On this day in 1881, the very long, extremely colourful and much romanticised life of Edward John Trelawny ended. The fact and fantasy of his life are outlined here. Having narrowly survived a serious murder attempt during his days with the Greek insurgent chief Odysseus, he lived another 46 years, only to succumb in the end to a fall while on his habitual morning walk. The friend and associate of the Shelley-Byron circle - and the orchestrator of the famous cremation - he had lived into the late Victorian age, long enough to pose for a world-famous Millais painting. That's him above, with his daughter Laetitia, in Millais's The North West Passage. Trelawny's ashes were, of course, interred alongside Shelley's in the Protestant cemetery in Rome, in a plot he had himself bought as a suitable resting place for them both.


  1. Trelawny - now there's a cornish name if ever I heard one!

    I do like tales of cads, bounders and rogues

    I'd never heard of him before - wikipedia's description is fairly gothic:

    "Trelawny described reaching into the pyre to pluck out Shelley’s heart before the flames could consume it."

    and the painting by Fournier of shelley's cremation is quite unpleasant too!

  2. Yes, the generation of about 1770 to 1800 certainly seems to have produced an extraordinary array of talents. So many of them have lasted, too. I wonder if any comparable period since then has been able to match it.

  3. What an intriguing posting. Thank you for sharing this wonderful tidbit.

  4. When I read Richard Holmes' biography of Shelley, Trelawney was my favorite character. In the cast of colorful individuals who surrounded Shelley (Byron, his wife Mary, his in-laws, Claire Clairmont), Trelawney still managed to stand out.

  5. For all his verve and razmatazz poor old Trelawny was left to ponder a trail of unhappy relationships.