WHEN CLASS WAR BURNED OXFORD: SHELLEY BALL 1992

‘University College, Oxford, the institution which launched Shelley into social exile by firing him (the word seems appropriate) as the author of a philosophical pamphlet, The Necessity of Atheism (1811), held a lavish black-tie Shelley Ball in June. With tickets at £72.50 each, there were dance bands, champagne, a Shelley-in-Italy pizza stall, and photographs at £10 a couple posed in front of Shelley’s marble monument with its weeping sea nymphs by E. Onslow Ford. But outside in the street, unemployed T-shirted protestors jeered and spat, howling that “Shelley was an anarchist, and these people kicked him out.” One could sense that the West Wind—“Destroyer and Preserver”—was still blowing hard’

I wasn’t there but heArd full account following day when we gathered in Bath to disrupt the opera in the Royal Circle. Guests at the Shelley Ball were harassed and attacked before curtains were set on fire and the spirit of Shelley’s Anarchy ran amok. Anyone who was there like to add.

*****Paul Rogers tells me access was gained through the back gate with bolt cutters but this led to a pitched battle with the security before the champagne could be grabbed.

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