George Gordon Noel Byron
The Life and
Work of Lord Byron--English History
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
by Lord George Gordon Byron
"She Walks in Beauty"
George Gordon Noel Byron, English poet and satirist, born January
22, 1788, London, England. the son of the handsome and profligate Captain
John "Mad Jack" Byron and his second wife, Catherine Gordon, a Scots heiress.
¹ In 1803
he fell in love with his distant cousin, Mary Chaworth, who was older and
already engaged, and when she rejected him she became the symbol for Byron
of idealized and unattainable love.
¹ After her husband had squandered most of her fortune, Mrs.
Byron took her infant son to Aberdeen, Scotland, where they lived in lodgings
on a meagre income; the captain died in France in 1791. George Gordon Byron
had been born with a clubfoot and early developed an extreme sensitivity
to his lameness. In 1798, at age 10, he unexpectedly inherited the title
and estates of his great-uncle William, the 5th Baron Byron. His mother
proudly took him to England, where the boy fell in love with the ghostly
halls and spacious ruins of Newstead Abbey, which had been presented to the
Byrons by Henry VIII. After living at Newstead for a while, Byron was sent
to school in London, and in 1801 he went to Harrow, one of England's most
prestigious schools. Although the academic atmosphere did nothing to lessen
Byron’s sensitivity about his lameness, he made several close friends while
at school. At Trinity he formed what was to be a close, lifelong friendship
with John Cam Hobhouse, who stirred his interest in liberal Whiggism.
The signs of his incipient sexual ambivalence became more pronounced
in what he later described as "a violent, though pure, love and passion"
for a young chorister, John Edleston. Despite Byron's strong attachment
to boys, often idealized as in the case of Edleston, his attachment to women
throughout his life is sufficient indication of the strength of his heterosexual
drive. In 1806 Byron had his early poems privately printed in a volume
entitled "Fugitive Pieces."
¹ Byron's first published volume of poetry, "Hours of Idleness",
appeared in 1807. A sarcastic critique of the book in The Edinburgh Review
provoked his retaliation in 1809 with a couplet satire, "English Bards
and Scotch Reviewers", in which he attacked the contemporary literary scene.
This work gained him his first recognition.
the summer of 1813, Byron apparently entered into intimate relations with
his half sister Augusta, now married to Colonel George Leigh. He then carried
on a flirtation with Lady Frances Webster as a diversion from this dangerous
liaison. The agitations of these two love affairs and the sense of mingled
guilt and exultation they aroused in Byron are reflected in the series of
gloomy and remorseful Oriental verse tales he wrote at this time: "The Giaour"
Bride of Abydos" (1813), "The Corsair" (1814), which sold 10,000 copies
on the day of publication; and "Lara" (1814).
On reaching his majority in 1809, Byron took his seat in the House
of Lords, and then embarked with Hobhouse on a grand tour through Spain,
Portugal, Italy, and proceeded by Gibraltar and Malta to Greece. In Greece
Byron began "Childe Harolde's Pilgrimage", which he continued in Athens.
Byron's stay in Greece made a lasting impression on him. The Greeks'
free and open frankness contrasted strongly with English reserve and hypocrisy
and served to broaden his views of men and manners. He delighted in the
sunshine and the moral tolerance of the people.
He returned in July of 1811 with Cantos I and II of Childe Harold (1812),
a melancholy, philosophic poem in "Spenserian stanzas", which made him the
social lion of London. Upon his return his mother died before he could
reach her at Newstead.
Byron proposed in September 1814 to Anne Isabella (Annabella) Milbanke.
The marriage took place in January 1815, a serious, rather cold, young woman
with whom he had little in common. She gave birth to a daughter, Augusta
Ada, in December 1815. In 1816 she secured a separation. Although her reasons
for such an action remain obscure.
¹From the start the marriage was doomed by the gulf between Byron
and his unimaginative and humorless wife; and in January 1816 Annabella
left Byron to live with her parents, amid swirling rumors centering on his
relations with Augusta Leigh and his bisexuality. The couple obtained a legal
separation. Wounded by the general moral indignation directed at him, Byron
went abroad in April 1816, never to return to England.
Byron sailed up the Rhine River into Switzerland to passed some time
with Shelley, writing Canto III of Childe Harold (1816) and The Prisoner
of Chillon (1816). With the party was Shelley’s sister-in-law, Claire Clairmont,
who had has an liaison before he left England, and who, gave birth to Byron's
illegitimate daughter Allegra in January 1817.
It is reported that Byron carried on a love affair with Marianna Segati,
his landlord's wife, In Italy, Margarita Cogni, a baker's wife, in Venice
and Countess Teresa Gamba Guiccioli, who was only 19 years old and married
to a man nearly three times her age.
Byron sold Newstead Abbey in the autumn of 1818 for £94,500,
which cleared him of his debts, that had risen to £34,000, and left
him with a generous income.
In the light, mock-heroic style of Beppo Byron found the form in which
he would write his greatest poem, Don Juan, a satire in the form of a
picaresque verse tale. Don Juan remains unfinished; Byron completed 16
cantos and had begun the 17th before his own illness and death.
In 1818 Shelley and other visitors found Byron had grown fat, with hair
long and turning gray, looking older than his years, and sunk in sexual
In Ravenna Byron wrote The Prophecy of Dante; cantos III, IV, and V
of Don Juan; the poetic dramas Marino Faliero, "Sardanapalus", "The Two
Foscari", and "Cain" (all published in 1821); and a satire on the poet
Robert Southey, The Vision of Judgment, which contains a devastating parody
of that poet laureate's fulsome eulogy of King George III.
Ranked with Shelley and Keats as one of the great Romantic poets, Byron
became famous throughout Europe as the embodiment of romanticism. His
good looks, lameness, and flamboyant lifestyle all contributed to the
formation of the Byronic legend. Also considered as one of the most important
and versatile writers of the romantic movement. By the mid-20th century,
his poetry covers a wide range. Byron's reputation as a poet had been
eclipsed by growing critical recognition of his talents as a wit and satirist.
¹ Byron was initially diverted from his satiric-realistic bent by
the success of Childe Harold. He followed this up with the Oriental tales,
which reflected the gloomy moods of self-analysis and disenchantment of
his years of fame. In Manfred and the third and fourth cantos of Childe
Harold he projected the brooding remorse and despair that followed the debacle
of his ambitions and love affairs in England. But gradually the relaxed
and freer life in Italy opened up again the satiric vein, and he found his
forte in the mock-heroic style of Italian verse satire.
He was a superb letter writer, conversational, witty, and relaxed, and
the 20th-century publication of many previously unknown letters has further
enhanced his literary reputation. Whether dealing with love or poetry, he
cuts through to the heart of the matter with admirable incisiveness, and
his apt and amusing turns of phrase make even his business letters fascinating.
Byron showed only that facet of his many-sided nature that was most
congenial to each of his friends. To Hobhouse he was the facetious companion,
humorous, cynical, and realistic, while to Edleston, and to most women,
he could be tender, melancholy, and idealistic. But this weakness was also
Byron's strength. His chameleon-like character was engendered not by hypocrisy
but by sympathy and adaptability, for the side he showed was a real if only
partial revelation of his true self. And this mobility of character permitted
him to savor and to record the mood and thought of the moment with a sensitivity
denied to those tied to the conventions of consistency.
At the news of the revolt of the Greeks against the Turks Byron, disregarding
his weakened physical condition, and in July 1823 joined the Greek insurgents
at Missolonghi. He not only recruited a regiment for the cause of Greek
independence but contributed large sums of money to it. The Greeks made him
commander in chief of their forces in January 1824. A serious illness in
February 1824 weakened him, and in April he contracted the fever from which
On April 19,1824, Byron died at Missolonghi. His body was brought back
to England and, refused burial in Westminster Abbey, was placed in the family
vault near Newstead. Ironically, 145 years after his death, a memorial to
Byron was finally placed on the floor of the Abbey.
Walks in Beauty
first Kiss of Love
To view more of Byron's poems:
Famous Poets and Poems
Some more of his poems includes:
'All Is Vanity,' Saith the Preacher, A Spirit Passed Before Me, Adieu,
Adieu! My Native Land, And Thou Art Dead, As Young and Fair, And Wilt Thou
Weep When I Am Low?, The Bride of Abydos, By the Rivers of Babylon We
Sat Down and Wept, Churchill's Grave, Darkness, Epistle To Augusta, Euthanasia,
Farewell To The Muse, For Music, I Saw Thee Weep, I Speak Not, I Would
I Were a Careless Child, I would to heaven that I were so much clay, The
Isles of Greece, It Is the Hour, John Keats, Lara , Lines Inscribed Upon
A Cup Formed From A Skull, Lines Written Beneath An Elm In The Churchyard
Of Harrow, Lines, On Hearing That Lady Byron Was Ill, Love's Last Adieu,
Maid of Athens, ere we part, Mazeppa, My Soul is Dark, Ode to Napoleon
Bonaparte, Oh! Snatched Away In Beauty's Bloom, Oh! Weep for Those, On
Chillon , On This Day I Complete My Thirty-Sixth Year, rometheus, Remember
Him, Whom Passion's Power, Remind Me Not, Remind Me Not, Reply to Some
Verses of J.M.B. Pigot, Esq., Saul, So We'll Go No More a-Roving, Song
of Saul Before His Last Battle, Sonnet - to Genevra, Sonnet to Lake Leman,
Stanzas Composed During A Thunderstorm, Stanzas For Music, Stanzas For
Music: There's Not A Joy The World Can Give, Stanzas To A Lady, On Leaving
England, Stanzas To Augusta, Stanzas To Jessy, Stanzas To The Po, Stanzas
Written On The Road Between Florence And Pisa, Sun of the Sleepless! The
Bride of Abydos The Destruction Of Sennacherib, The Dream, The Giaour, The
Isles of Greece, The Prisoner of Chillon, The Siege and Conquest of Alhama,
The Siege of Corinth, The Tear, The Vision of Judgment, There Be None of
Beauty's Daughters, There Was A Time, I Need Not Name, Thou Whose Spell
Can Raise the Dead Thy Days Are Done, To A Beautiful Quaker, To A Lady,
To Caroline, To Eliza, To M , To M. S. G., To Mary, On Receiving Her Picture,
To Romance, To Thomas Moore, To Thyrza: And Thou Art Dead, To Time, We'll
go no more a-roving, When Coldness Wraps This Suffering Clay, Written
After Swimming From Sestos To Abydos
[Poet's Corner Index]
Reference, Research and Source Information
The History Channel
¹Byron, George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron."
Encyclopædia Britannica. 2006.
Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service. 5 June 2006
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