Percy Bysshe Shelley was the husband of Mary Shelley (writer of Frankenstein) and a contemporary and friend of Lord Byron. He is widely regarded as the finest poet of the Romantic period and possibly the greatest English poet of all time. A philosopher and atheist , expelled from Oxford for the publication of a pamphlet entitled "The Necessity of Atheism", Shelley led an itinerant life and died in 1822, drowned.

"Ozymandias" was written in 1818, in the same year that he started on his most famous work, "Prometheus Unbound". At the time he was wandering in Italy and Venice with Mary and Clare Claremont, the cast-off lover of Byron, and the melancholy that affected him during that time shows through clearly in "Ozymandias".

The eponymous "Ozymandias" is perhaps better known as Rameses II, ruler of Egypt in the 13th century BC. The poem has been interpreted in a number of different ways, but all center on the irony in Ozymandias' declaration that the "Mighty" should "look upon my works, and despair".

Shelley wrote many other poems during this time, of which "Prometheus Unbound" remains the best known. Four years later, he died, drowned at sea, with the conviction that his work would never receive popular acclaim.

For the interested, a full biography of Percy Shelley's life and his works is available at Bartleby's.