He is most famous for such classic anthology verse works as "Ozymandias", Ode to the West Wind, To a Skylark, Music, When Soft Voices Die, The Cloud and The Masque of Anarchy, which are among the most popular and critically acclaimed poems in the English language. His major works, however, are long visionary poems which included Queen Mab (later reworked as The Daemon of the World), Alastor, The Revolt of Islam, Adonaïs and the unfinished work The Triumph of Life. The Cenci (1819) and Prometheus Unbound (1820) were dramatic plays in five and four acts respectively. Although he has typically been figured as a "reluctant dramatist", he was passionate about the theatre, and his plays continue to be performed today. He wrote the Gothic novels Zastrozzi (1810) and St. Irvyne (1811) and the short prose works "The Assassins" (1814), "The Coliseum" (1817) and "Una Favola" (1819). In 2008, he was credited as the co-author of the novel Frankenstein (1818) in a new edition by the Bodleian Library in Oxford and Random House in the U.S. entitled The Original Frankenstein, edited by Charles E. Robinson.
Shelley's unconventional life, alongside a common perception of his thought as uncompromising idealism, combined with his strong disapproving voice, made him a marginalized figure during his life, important in a fairly small circle of admirers, and opened him to criticism as well as praise afterward. Long after Shelley's death, Mark Twain took particular aim at Shelley in In Defense of Harriet Shelley, where he lambasted the 22-year-old Shelley for abandoning his pregnant 18-year-old wife and child to run off with the 16-year-old Mary Godwin. Shelley never lived to see the extent of his success and influence; although some of his works were published, they were often suppressed upon publication.
He became an idol of the next three or four generations of poets, including important Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite poets. He was admired by Karl Marx, Oscar Wilde, Thomas Hardy, George Bernard Shaw, Bertrand Russell, William Butler Yeats, Upton Sinclair and Isadora Duncan. Henry David Thoreau's civil disobedience and Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi's passive resistance were apparently influenced and inspired by Shelley's non-violence in protest and political action, although Gandhi does not include him in his list of mentors.
“We finished Will’s wheat stack this forenoon and got in our rakings. This afternoon we got in eight loads of their barley and cut the balance of their piece of barley.”