NEW GIFT TO THE KEATS-SHELLEY HOUSE TO BE DISPLAYED FROM DECEMBER 2013

November 25, 2013

When the museum was first opened in 1909, many of the manuscripts and artifacts on display had been donated by kind benefactors.  Although auction has now become the main way that museums are able to gain additional pieces, thanks to the generosity of Lord Abinger, the Keats-Shelley House is delighted to add an exceptional piece to its collection: a substantial tress of Shelley’s hair from his childhood. 

In the nineteenth century when Shelley was growing up, children’s hair was rarely cut before the age of four or five, at which point boys started to look different from girls. There is a miniature of Shelley before his first haircut by duc de Montpensier (and a copy by Eaton) in Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries. Such long locks were kept as good luck charms, which is why these amazing tresses survive.  As adults, preserving the hair of loved or admired ones was also popular, hence why the museum also has small locks of Keats, Shelley, Leigh Hunt, Elizabeth Barrett-Browning and John Milton’s hair.