While she was writing The Fortunes of Perkin Warbeck (1827–30), Mary was undergoing some trying personal events. For one, Bysshe’s long-time friend Thomas Jefferson Hogg (he was not named for the American president) had, in the early months of 1827, begun living with Mary’s best friend, Jane Williams (who, as you recall, was the widow of Edward, who’d drowned with Bysshe back in the summer of 1822).
Mary was not thrilled. When she and Bysshe had first hooked up, Hogg, animated by what he perceived as the “open marriage” aspect of it all, had begun sniffing around the Shelley household, believing Bysshe would not disapprove of his carnal interests in Mary. Nothing happened (apparently), but if you need additional evidence of Mary’s imagination, consider her ability to avoid Hogg’s rutting notions. Oh, and recall, as well, that Hogg had been expelled from Oxford along with Bysshe because of their pamphlet, discussed much earlier here, On the Necessity of Atheism (1811). Hogg would later write a biography of Bysshe—Life of Percy Bysshe Shelley, published in 1858, seven years after Mary’s death. Wildly inaccurate—but useful for some personal details.
Okay. So … T. J. Hogg, a man whom Mary disdained, had swooped in to live with her best friend. That would have a deleterious and frigid effect on her friendship. Little did she know. In July 1827, Mary learned from another friend that Jane Williams Hogg (never her legal surname—they were not married) had been speaking ill of her behind her back, blaming her dark moods back in the fatal summer of 1822 for sending Bysshe (and thus Edward) out to sea more and more often—just to get away from her gloom. In other words, Jane was in a way blaming Mary for the drownings.
In her journal, Mary cried out, My friend has proved false & treacherous! Miserable discovery—for four years I was devoted to her—& I earned only ingratitude. She went on to talk about the deep—bleeding, hidden wound of my lost heart—… such a tale of horror and despair.
And, as always, she knew what she had to do about it: Writing—study—quiet—such remedies I must seek—woe the while—I thought fresh hopes were to be mine—but who can sustain the mortal sadness which such a discovery must produce.