Leigh Hunt is the forgotten giant of English Romanticism. The man Virginia Woolf called the 'spiritual grandfather' of the modern world was descended from black Caribbeans and grew up a child of the American and French revolutions. A poet and radical journalist, he threw off the shackles of the old order and campaigned tirelessly for Irish freedom and the abolition of slavery. Unwilling to see the Prince of Wales as an 'Adonis of Loveliness', Hunt was jailed for 'diabolical libel' that presented the prince as he was: a corpulent fifty-year-old, sodden with drink and drugs.
Hunt was the centre of a charismatic generation. In prison, he drew the homage of Lord Byron, and soon afterwards discovered the Romantic geniuses Keats and Shelley. He was also a man riven by contradicitons, enjoying a controversial public role while battling with private demons. Hunt's own poetry glows with the sexual frankness that characterised all his relationships, male and female.
Written with flair and brilliant imaginative insight, and using a wealth of unpublished manuscript sources, Fiery Heart: The First Life of Leigh Hunt overturns existing accounts and presents a sparkling new portrait of Leigh Hunt and the English Romantics.