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Shelleyan Orphan was a Britishmarker alternative music group of the 1980s and early 1990s.

In 1980, Caroline Crawley and Jemaur Tayle met in Bournemouthmarker, England, where they discovered a mutual appreciation of poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Two years later, after taking the name Shelleyan Orphan from the Shelley poem "Spirit Of Solitude," the pair moved to Londonmarker to seek out orchestral elements to add to their voices.

In June 1984, the band got their first break and landed a session with David Jensen for BBC Radio 1. The band signed with Rough Trade Records in 1986 and released the singles Cavalry of Cloud and Anatomy of Love to positive reviews.

In 1987, the band released their first of three albums: Helleborine. Named after the Helleborine orchid said to have the power to cure madness, the album was recorded at Abbey Road Studiosmarker with producer Haydn Bendall. Helleborine included an assortment of well-known guests including Stuart Elliott (the drummer for Kate Bush), and Kate's brother Paddy Bush. The album's complex arrangements, lyrics rooted in romantic poetry, and liberal use of bassoon and oboe/cor anglais (unusual in any pop album), led to the labelling of the band as "pretentious" by the British music press.

The "Pre-Raphaelite Fruitcakes" spent the following two years refining their sound and, in 1989, released Century Flower. So called after an event , a flower, that blooms only once in its lifetime, this album was intended to mark "an event which affects enormous change, maybe once in a century: on a world scale, the atomic bomb: on a personal level, the death of someone close to you." Produced by David M. Allen, who had worked with The Cure and The Human League, the band's looser, more contemporary sound caught the ear of The Cure's Robert Smith, who invited the band to accompany them on their Disintegration Tour. While on the Disintegration tour, Caroline Crawley began a relationship with Cure drummer Boris Williams.

In 1991, the band would receive another break when Crawley was approached by 4AD Records founder Ivo Watts-Russell who asked her to appear on four tracks of This Mortal Coil's Blood. Crawley was permitted to do her own interpretations of the tracks, and would appear in the video for the Syd Barrett cover, "Late Night." With Jem Tayle, Shelleyan Orphan recorded and released tracks for several compilations during this period.

In 1992, Shelleyan Orphan returned with their final album, Humroot. Named after Jems childhood dog, Humroot and was recorded by Bill Buchanan, and the band was joined by Boris Williams, Porl Thompson (The Cure) and Roberto Soave (Presence).

Shortly after Humroot's release, Shelleyan Orphan disbanded. Tayle formed his own band Elephantine, and Crawley, along with Williams and Soave, formed Babacar. Soon after, Tayle joined Babacar as a fulltime member, though not contributing to the songwriting.

In 2000, the band reunited to record a cover of Tim Buckley's "Buzzin' Fly" for Sing a Song for You: A Tribute to Tim Buckley.

A new album, entitled "We Have Everything We Need", will be released October 13th 2008 on One Little Indian Records.


  • The single Cavalry of Cloud is dedicated to "The Man in the Shed," a reference to (Nick Drake).
  • Helleborine was resequenced and partially remixed for the US issue of the album. "Anatomy of Love" was remixed by Geoff Travis and "Epitaph Ivy and Woe" was shortened.
  • Century Flower was partially remixed for the US issue by Jim Scott in the song "Between two waves".


  • Helleborine Rough Trade, 1987 (LP/CD)
  • Helleborine (US Version) Columbia, 1988(?). (LP/CD)
  • Century Flower Rough Trade, 1989 (CD)
  • Century Flower (US Version) Columbia, 1989 (CD)
  • Humroot Columbia/Rough Trade, 1992 (CD)
  • We Have Everything We Need One Little Indian, 2008 (CD)

  • Cavalry of Cloud Rough Trade, 1986 (7"/12")
  • Anatomy of Love Rough Trade, 1987 (7"/12")
  • Shatter Rough Trade, 1989 (7"/12")

Promotional EP
  • Century Flower (Japanese Promo) Columbia, 1990 (CD)
  • Waking Up Columbia/Rough Trade, 1992 (CD)


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