A WRITER has launched a campaign for a new memorial to the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.

John Webster, 64, from Headington, is a freelance writer who specialises in Romantic poetry studies.

While there is a memorial at Shelley’s alma mater, University College, Mr Webster said there should be a more public tribute and has suggested the Lloyds Bank building at the junction of Cornmarket Street and High Street.

Mr Webster, who lives with wife Premila, is launching the campaign as a member of the Oxford Humanist Group.

He said: “With the support of the Humanist Group I am embarking on an initiative to create a new Shelley Memorial in Oxford and I would like to invite support for it, which can be registered at the Facebook page New Shelley Memorial Oxford.

“There is of course an existing memorial at University College but this is universally regarded to be very much of its time, and is also not universally accessible to the public.

“My idea would be to place a plaque or sign near, or close to the site of the bookshop, where Shelley launched his treatise The Necessity of Atheism in 1811.

“This is on the High Street, where now Lloyds Bank can be found, and the text could begin along the lines of the memorial to John Wesley in New Inn Hall Street: 'In a bookshop on this site Percy Bysshe Shelley launched in March 1811 his treatise The Necessity of Atheism'.

“I know atheism makes some people cross and would not want to have anything that spoils anyone’s day but rather encourages and inspires.”

Mr Webster said he first became interested in Shelley in the mid-1970s.

Shelley was born in 1792 and died in 1822 and among his well known poems are Ozymandias and Ode to the West Wind.

The poet arrived at University College in 1810 and was expelled the following year. He repeatedly refused to ‘disavow’ The Necessity of Atheism.

In the later 19th century Shelley’s daughter-in-law Jane devoted herself to nurturing the poet’s memory, even to the point of downplaying difficult aspects of his character, such as his atheism.

As part of this project, she commissioned a grand memorial of her father-in-law to be placed in the Protestant cemetery in Rome, where he was buried.

Unfortunately the memorial was too large for the plot, and Lady Shelley had to look elsewhere.

Eventually she offered the sculpture to University College, with an offer to pay towards an enclosure to house it.

The college agreed and, in 1893, the Shelley Memorial was formally inaugurated.

The monument is the work of Edward Onslow Ford, a member of the New Sculpture Movement.

The enclosure was designed by Basil Champneys.

Restoration work has attempted to recreate the original colour scheme.