Edward John Trelawny - Encyclopedia

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EDWARD JOHN TRELAWNY (1792-1881), English sailor and friend of Shelley and Byron, was born in London on the 13th of November 1792, the son of an army officer. After a short term in the navy and a naval school, he shipped for India, but deserted at Bombay. For several years he led an adventurous life in India, but about 1813 returned to England, married and settled down. In was early in 1822 that he met Shelley and Byron at Pisa and passed nearly every day with one or both of them until the drowning of Shelley (q.v.) and Williams on the 8th of July. He it was who superintended the recovery and cremation of the bodies, snatching Shelley's heart from the flames, and who. added the lines from the Tempest to Leigh Hunt's "Cor Cordium"; and, finally, who supplied the funds for Mrs Shelley's return to England. In 1823 he set out with Byron for Greece, to aid in the struggle for independence. Distressed by his companion's dilatoriness, Trelawny left him and joined the insurgent chief Odysseus and afterwards married his sister Tersitza. While in charge of the former's fortress on Parnassus he was assaulted by two Englishmen and nearly killed. Returning to England, he lived for a time in Cornwall with his mother and afterwards in London, where his romantic associations, picturesque person and agreeable manners made him a great social favourite. Permission having been refused him to write the life of Shelley, he began an account of his own life in the Adventures of a Younger Son (1835), followed much later by a second part: Recollections of Shelley and Byron (1858). This gives an admirable portrait of Shelley, and a less truthful one of Byron. He married a third time, but the irregularity of his life estranged him from his wife, and he died at Sompting, near Worthing, on the 13th of August 1881. His ashes were buried in Rome by the side of those of Shelley. The old seaman in Millais's picture, "The North-West Passage," in the Tate Gallery, London, gives a portrait of him.

See the Letters of Edward J. Trelawny, edited with Introduction by H. Buxton Forman, C.B. (1910).

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