Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.
George Gordon Byron
January 22 1788 to April 19 1824
Just 36 when he died. Think of how much more he would have contributed if he had lived.
Byron was a poet, but he was so much more. His life supplies the drawing rooms of the Regency Era with ondits that can keep the Ton occupied for countless hours. At the age of 10, our Byron became the Baron of Byron of Rochdale, thus Lord Byron. As a youth, he had a problematic relation with his mother who drank excessively for which he berated her. She in turn called him the lame brat. Byron may have had a club foot, or this may have been from a bout of polio.
Sex and Byron seems to find its way as a theme for even at age eight the future poet was promiscuous. And, as a young child a male suitor of his mother made advances upon him. We know now that such actions to children take away some of childhood and have an effect on them as adults. It is probably no wonder the man had many liaisons as an adult. At this point, (DWW-And I think continued history will only muddle this more) the true sexual desires of Byron have been made for both men and women.
In 1801 Byron went to Harrow for his education. Then onto Trinity College, Cambridge. Even before he left college his poems had begun to be published. Byron went on his Grand Tour between 1809 and 1811. When he returned home, more of his poetry was published. By 1812 he was becoming famous.
In 1812 he also began his affair with Lady Caroline Lamb. She described him the same way that his heroic Corsair is described. “Mad, bad and dangerous to know.” Mad though describes best how Lady Caroline became when he separated from her. After Lady Caroline there were others such as Lady Oxford, then his half Sister Augusta Leigh, to whom he had a child, and last his marriage to Caroline’s cousin Anne Isabella Milbanke. Having with her, their daughter Augusta Ada (Lovelace.) Anne and Byron separated though in 1816.
From 1816 until his death, he did not return to England but was able to lead his life of sexual freedom abroad. Hence another Regency reality, of fleeing England if you were going to be exceedingly promiscuous, or indulge in sexual edification with more than one partner at a time, or partners of your same sex.
In 1816 he also visited Saint Lazarus Island in Venice and came in contact with Armenian culture. He learned the language and wrote a grammar on it. He also participated in the English Armenian dictionary.
His time abroad had him meet with the other great poet of his age, Percy Bysshe Shelley and even helping with the formation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein over a period when they were all shut in during incessant raining.
Whilst living in Greece in 1823 he became attached to the Greek movement for independence and spent £4000 of his own money to outfit the Greek fleet. Then in 1824, he fell ill and bloodletting did not help with his recovery. Catching a violent cold with more bloodletting, he developed a fever and died on the 19 of April. Some hold that if he had lived and the gone on to wrest Greece from the Ottomans, he could have been declared king of Greece.
He was a great poet, yet his lifestyle was hard for the British to swallow. He came to rest (except for perhaps his heart-remaining in Greece) in Westminster Abbey. But it took 145 years for a memorial to be placed in the Abbey. It took from 1907 to 1969 for the memorial to be actually be placed showing that his great gifts to literature were far outweighed by Victorian attitudes towards Sex and lifestyle choices.
There will be many other notables coming, a full and changing list can be found here on the blog as I keep adding to it. The list so far is:
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Lady Caroline Lamb
Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire
Charles James Fox
Richard Brinsley Sheridan
John Phillip Kemble
Wellington (the Military man)
General Banastre Tarleton
Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Marquis of Stafford George Leveson-Gower
Paul III Anton, Prince Esterházy
Thomas Egerton, 2nd Earl of Wilton
Henry Herbert Southey
William Arden, 2nd Baron Alvanley
Sir Walter Scott
Duke of Argyll, George William Campbell (1766-1839)
Lord Barrymore, Richard Barry (1769-1794)
Lord Bedford, Francis Russell (1765-1802)
Mr. G. Dawson Damer (1788-1856)
Duke of Devonshire, William Cavendish (1748-1811)
Lord Foley, Thomas Foley (1780-1833)
Colonel George Hanger (c.1751-1824)
Lord Hertford, Francis Seymour-Ingram (1743-1822)
Lord Yarmouth, Francis Charles Seymour-Ingram (1777-1842)
Edward “Golden Ball” Hughes (1798-1863)
Earl of Jersey, George Bussey Villiers (1735-1805)
Sir John , John Lade (1759-1838)
Duke of Norfolk, Charles Howard (1746-1815)
Duke of York , Frederick Augustus Hanover (1763-1827)
Louis Philippe Joseph, Duc de Chartres, acceded 1785 as Duc d’ Orleans (1747-1793)
Louis Philippe, Duc de Chartres, acceded 1793 as Duc d’ Orleans (1773-1850)
Captain John (Jack) Willett Payne (1752-1803)
Viscount Petersham, Charles Stanhope(1780-1851)
Duke of Queensberry, William Douglas (1724-1810)
Duke of Rutland, John Henry Manners(1778-1857)
Lord Sefton, William Philip Molyneux (1772-1838)
Admiral Lord Hugh Seymour (1759-1801)
Sir Lumley St. George Skeffington Baronet (1771 – 1850)
Lord Worcester, Henry Somerset (1766-1835)
Lord Worcester, Henry Somerset (1792-1853)
Hon. Frederick Gerald aka “Poodle” Byng
Patronesses of Almacks
Emily Lamb, Lady Cowper
Amelia Stewart, Viscountess Castlereagh
Sarah Villiers, Countess of Jersey
Maria Molyneux, Countess of Sefton
Mrs. Drummond Burrell
Dorothea Lieven, Countess de Lieven, wife of the Russian Ambassador
Countess Esterhazy, wife of the Austrian Ambassador