If you look at a chronology of Bysshe’s life—his young adult life once he left home for Oxford in October 1810—you will probably be astonished by how peripatetic he was—how restless. While living in one place, he would imagine life in another—and off he and his entourage would go, sometimes on a moment’s notice. As we'll see later, this would have fatal consequences for some who followed him.
Let me just list the moves during the early days of his marriage with Harriet Westbrook.
October 1811: Back from their marriage in Scotland, they are living in York.
November 1811: They move to Keswick, in the Lake District, over 100 miles to the northwest.
February 1812: Dublin, Ireland.
April 1812: Nantgwillt, Wales.
June 1812: Lynmouth, Devon, more than 160 miles south of Nantgwillt.
September 1812: Tremadoc (now spelled Tremadog), Wales, 235 miles north of Lynmouth.
And when you realize the difficulties of travel in the early 1800s—no trains, planes, or automobiles—it’s even more a testament to Bysshe’s enthusiasm and persuasiveness that those who were living with him—wife, children, friends, servant(s)—would pack the household once again with alacrity and set off on a rough, uncomfortable journey by carriage and/or coach to yet another place where, of course, they would live forever. Or at least a month or so.
In the spring of 1999 when I was visiting as many Mary Shelley sites as I could, I realized, even before I left Ohio, that it would be impossible to see all the ones associated with Bysshe—certainly on my limited budgets of time and English pounds. But one place I definitely wanted to see was Tremadog, Wales, where, in late February 1813, Bysshe had a bizarre—and, to hear him tell it, potentially fatal—experience.