Byron: the impossible hero

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Rumours of marital violence, adultery with actresses, incest with Augusta Leigh, and sodomy were circulated, assisted by a jealous Lady Caroline. Elizabeth Medora Leigh — In part of a baptismal record was uncovered which apparently said: "September 24 George illegitimate son of Lucy Monk, illegitimate son of Baron Byron, of Newstead, Nottingham, Newstead Abbey.

Augusta Leigh 's child, Elizabeth Medora Leigh , born , was very likely fathered by Byron, who was Augusta's half-brother. Byron had a child, The Hon. Ada Lovelace, notable in her own right, collaborated with Charles Babbage on the analytical engine , a predecessor to modern computers. She is recognised [] as one of [] the world's first computer programmers.

Allegra is not entitled to the style "The Hon. Born in Bath in , Allegra lived with Byron for a few months in Venice; he refused to allow an Englishwoman caring for the girl to adopt her and objected to her being raised in the Shelleys' household. Byron was indifferent towards Allegra's mother, Claire Clairmont. Byron enjoyed adventure, especially relating to the sea. The first recorded notable example of open water swimming took place on 3 May when Lord Byron swam from Europe to Asia across the Hellespont Strait.

Whilst sailing from Genoa to Cephalonia in , every day at noon, Byron and Trelawny, in calm weather, jumped overboard for a swim without fear of sharks, which were not unknown in those waters. Byron had a great love of animals, most notably for a Newfoundland dog named Boatswain. When the animal contracted rabies , Byron nursed him, albeit unsuccessfully, without any thought or fear of becoming bitten and infected.

Although deep in debt at the time, Byron commissioned an impressive marble funerary monument for Boatswain at Newstead Abbey, larger than his own, and the only building work which he ever carried out on his estate. In his will, Byron requested that he be buried with him. Byron also kept a tame bear while he was a student at Trinity, out of resentment for rules forbidding pet dogs like his beloved Boatswain.

There being no mention of bears in their statutes, the college authorities had no legal basis for complaining: Byron even suggested that he would apply for a college fellowship for the bear. During his lifetime, in addition to numerous cats, dogs, and horses, Byron kept a fox , monkeys , an eagle , a crow , a falcon , peacocks , guinea hens , an Egyptian crane , a badger , geese , a heron , and a goat.

As a boy, Byron's character is described as a "mixture of affectionate sweetness and playfulness, by which it was impossible not to be attached", although he also exhibited "silent rages, moody sullenness and revenge" with a precocious bent for attachment and obsession. From birth, Byron suffered from a deformity of his right foot.

Although it has generally been referred to as a " club foot ", some modern medical authors maintain that it was a consequence of infantile paralysis poliomyelitis , and others that it was a dysplasia , a failure of the bones to form properly. Although he often wore specially-made shoes in an attempt to hide the deformed foot, [37] he refused to wear any type of brace that might improve the limp. Scottish novelist John Galt felt his oversensitivity to the "innocent fault in his foot was unmanly and excessive" because the limp was "not greatly conspicuous".

He first met Byron on a voyage to Sardinia and did not realise he had any deficiency for several days, and still could not tell at first if the lameness was a temporary injury or not. At the time Galt met him he was an adult and had worked to develop "a mode of walking across a room by which it was scarcely at all perceptible". He was renowned for his personal beauty, which he enhanced by wearing curl-papers in his hair at night. Byron and other writers, such as his friend Hobhouse , described his eating habits in detail. At the time he entered Cambridge, he went on a strict diet to control his weight.

He also exercised a great deal, and at that time wore a great amount of clothes to cause himself to perspire. For most of his life he was a vegetarian and often lived for days on dry biscuits and white wine. Occasionally he would eat large helpings of meat and desserts, after which he would purge himself. Although he is described by Galt and others as having a predilection for "violent" exercise, Hobhouse suggests that the pain in his deformed foot made physical activity difficult and that his weight problem was the result.

Byron first took his seat in the House of Lords 13 March [] but left London on 11 June for the Continent. His first speech before the Lords, on 27 February , was loaded with sarcastic references to the "benefits" of automation, which he saw as producing inferior material as well as putting people out of work, and concluded the proposed law was only missing two things to be effective: "Twelve Butchers for a Jury and a Jeffries for a Judge!

Byron's speech was officially recorded and printed in Hansard. Two months later, in conjunction with the other Whigs, Byron made another impassioned speech before the House of Lords in support of Catholic emancipation. Byron wrote prolifically. Subsequent editions were released in 17 volumes, first published a year later, in Byron's magnum opus , Don Juan , a poem spanning 17 cantos, ranks as one of the most important long poems published in England since John Milton 's Paradise Lost.

In addition to its biting satire, the poem especially in the early cantos is funny. Byron published the first two cantos anonymously in after disputes with his regular publisher over the shocking nature of the poetry. By this time, he had been a famous poet for seven years, and when he self-published the beginning cantos, they were well received in some quarters. Byron was a bitter opponent of Lord Elgin 's removal of the Parthenon marbles from Greece and "reacted with fury" when Elgin's agent gave him a tour of the Parthenon, during which he saw the spaces left by the missing friezes and metopes.

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Byron is considered to be the first modern-style celebrity. His image as the personification of the Byronic hero fascinated the public, [37] and his wife Annabella coined the term "Byromania" to refer to the commotion surrounding him. Biographies were distorted by the burning of Byron's memoir in the offices of his publisher, John Murray , a month after his death and the suppression of details of Byron's bisexuality by subsequent heads of the firm which held the richest Byron archive. As late as the s, scholar Leslie Marchard was expressly forbidden by the Murray company to reveal details of Byron's same-sex passions.

The re-founding of the Byron Society in reflected the fascination that many people had with Byron and his work. Thirty-six Byron Societies function throughout the world, and an International Conference takes place annually. Byron exercised a marked influence on Continental literature and art, and his reputation as a poet is higher in many European countries than in Britain or America, although not as high as in his time, when he was widely thought to be the greatest poet in the world. Over forty operas have been based on his works, in addition to three operas about Byron himself including Virgil Thomson 's Lord Byron.

The figure of the Byronic hero pervades much of his work, and Byron himself is considered to epitomise many of the characteristics of this literary figure. The Byronic hero presents an idealised, but flawed character whose attributes include: great talent; great passion; a distaste for society and social institutions; a lack of respect for rank and privilege although possessing both ; being thwarted in love by social constraint or death; rebellion; exile; an unsavory secret past; arrogance; overconfidence or lack of foresight; and, ultimately, a self-destructive manner.

These types of characters have since become ubiquitous in literature and politics. London: J. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the archaeologist, see George Byron Gordon archaeologist. For other uses, see Byron disambiguation and George Byron disambiguation. Portrait of Byron by Thomas Phillips , c. Anne Isabella Milbanke m. Ada Lovelace Allegra Byron. Further information: Early life of George Gordon Byron. Percy Bysshe Shelley , Mary Shelley , Claire Clairmont.

Further information: Greek War of Independence. Lady Caroline Lamb.

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Augusta Leigh. Ada Lovelace — Clara Allegra Byron — Main article: Don Juan poem. Main article: Elgin Marbles. Main article: Lord Byron in popular culture. See also: Cultural legacy of Mazeppa. See also: Category:Works by Lord Byron. Index of Titles Index of First Lines. Biography portal Poetry portal Arts portal. Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 30 December London, England.

Retrieved 25 May The New York Times. Retrieved 11 July American Scientist. The Guardian. London, England: Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 10 December Retrieved 5 March Byron paid his addresses to her. Cricinfo Magazine. London, England: Wisden Group. Retrieved 23 July A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. Retrieved 29 September JGHawaii Publishing Co. Retrieved 20 November Arkansas State University.

Archived from the original on 10 May The Independent on Sunday. Retrieved 22 July In Ratcliffe, Susan ed. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 December Paragraph 2.

Cambridge Authors » Byron and History: Two Points of View

Romanticism on the Net, 36—37, November The British Library. Soviet Armenian Encyclopedia. Letters: Shelley in Italy. Clarendon Press. Romantic Circles. University of Maryland. Retrieved 15 May Kindle Edition. Dean and Chapter of the Collegiate Church of St. Peter Westminster. Retrieved 31 May Retrieved 27 April Archived from the original on 11 April Retrieved 16 October Spartan Daily.

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San Jose State University. Archived from the original on 7 December Retrieved 19 November Sunday Times: Property. Dublin, Ireland: The Times Online. Retrieved 21 February Lady Caroline Lamb coined the phrase after her first meeting with the poet at a society event in Retrieved 3 April Archived from the original on 6 March The Observer. London: Guardian. He expired in a state of madness on the 10th, after suffering much, yet retaining all the gentleness of his nature to the last, never attempting to do the least injury to anyone near him. Letters and Journals of Lord Byron , The Late Lord Byron.

Melville House Publishing, , ch. When I brought him here, they asked me what I meant to do with him, and my reply was, 'he should sit for a fellowship. He saw it as the mark of satanic connection, referring to himself as le diable boiteux , the lame devil. The Cambridge Companion to Byron. Cambridge University Press.

Hansard The Parliamentary Debates , vol. John Wilson Croker ed. John Murray. English History. Retrieved 30 July Retrieved 2 July The Independent. Bright Star. Elido Fazi. John Barber. A Genius for Failure. Paul O'Keeffe. Andrew McConnell Stott. Shelley: The Pursuit. Richard Holmes. The Pre-Raphaelites. Robert de la Sizeranne. Collected Works Of William Hazlitt. William Hazlitt. William Shakespeare. Samuel Levy Bensusan. Neglected Genius.

John Jolliffe. William Le Queux. Fugitive Pieces Mobi Classics. The Tale of Terror. Edith Birkhead. Adventures Among Books. Andrew Lang.

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The Face of Britain. Simon Schama. John Ruskin. My Own Life. David Hume. Phyllis Buck. Life of Byron [Christmas Summary Classics]. Thomas Moore. Byron's War. Roderick Beaton. David Crane. A Week on the Lake. Roger Hall Lloyd. Lucy Madox Brown Rossetti. Famous European Artists. Sarah K. Russell Barrington. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson Illustrated. Robert Louis Stevenson. Uncollected Stories by M.

James - Delphi Classics Illustrated. Ivan Turgenev. Turner - The Original Classic Edition. William Cosmo Monkhouse. Wilkie Collins.

The Truth of Masks: a Note on Illusion an essay of dramatic theory. Oscar Wilde. As the last of my race, I must wither alone, And delight but in days, I have witness'd before: [10].

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That Ossian, last of all his race! Lies buried in this lonely place. Thus Byron's poem seems to show that a brooding, melancholy influence not only from Wordsworth but also from Macpherson was very much on his mind at an early date. After Childe Harold's Pilgrimage , the Byronic hero made an appearance in many of Byron's other works, including his series of poems on Oriental themes: The Giaour , The Corsair and Lara ; and his closet play Manfred For example, Byron described Conrad, the pirate hero of his The Corsair , as follows:.

He knew himself a villain—but he deem'd The rest no better than the thing he seem'd; And scorn'd the best as hypocrites who hid Those deeds the bolder spirit plainly did. He knew himself detested, but he knew The hearts that loath'd him, crouch'd and dreaded too. Lone, wild, and strange, he stood alike exempt From all affection and from all contempt: I, XI [14]. Admiration of Byron continued to be fervent in the years following his death. Notable fans included Alfred Lord Tennyson. Fourteen at the time of Byron's death, and so grieved at the poet's passing he carved the words "Byron is dead" on a rock near his home in Somerby, declaring the "world had darkened for him" McCarthy, However, the admiration of Byron as a character led some fans to emulate characteristics of the Byronic hero.

Foremost was Wilfrid Scawen Blunt , who took the Byron cult to remarkable extremes. His marriage to Byron's granddaughter McCarthy, , taking a "Byron pilgrimage" around the Continent and his anti-imperialist stance that saw him become an outcast just like his hero McCarthy, cemented his commitment to emulating the Byronic character.

Byron's influence is manifest in many authors and artists of the Romantic movement and writers of Gothic fiction during the 19th century. In later Victorian literature, the Byronic character only seemed to survive as a solitary figure, resigned to suffering Harvey, However, Charles Dickens ' representation of the character is more complex than that.

Steerforth in David Copperfield manifests the concept of the "fallen angel" aspect of the Byronic hero; his violent temper and seduction of Emily should turn the reader, and indeed David, against him. But it does not.


He still retains a fascination, as David admits in the aftermath of discovering what Steerforth has done to Emily Harvey, He may have done wrong, but David cannot bring himself to hate him. Steerforth's occasional outbreaks of remorse reveal a tortured character Harvey, , echoing a Byronic remorse. Harvey concludes that Steerforth is a remarkable blend of both villain and hero, and exploration of both sides of the Byronic character. Scholars have also drawn parallels between the Byronic hero and the solipsist heroes of Russian literature. In particular, Alexander Pushkin 's famed character Eugene Onegin echoes many of the attributes seen in Childe Harold's Pilgrimage , particularly, Onegin's solitary brooding and disrespect for traditional privilege.

The first stages of Pushkin's poetic novel Eugene Onegin appeared twelve years after Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage , and Byron was of obvious influence Vladimir Nabokov argued in his Commentary to Eugene Onegin that Pushkin had read Byron during his years in exile just prior to composing Eugene Onegin. The Byronic hero is also featured in many contemporary novels, and has played a role in modern literature as the precursor to a popular form of antihero.