George Gordon Byron

Early Life

George Gordon Byron was born on the 22nd of January in 1788. He is well-known as Lord Byron or the 6th Baron Byron. He was an intelligent child of John (Mad Jack) Byron, a British army officer, while his mother, Catharine Gordon, was a ruined Scots Heiress. Catherine was the second wife of John Byron. He led a traumatic childhood partly because of the fierce temper and insensitivity of his mother and partly because of his clubbed right foot. His father left him in 1791, while his mother left the world in 1811.

Education 

Lord Byron’s mother took him to Aberdeenshire, England. There, he attended Aberdeen Grammar School and the school of Dr. William Glennie in Dulwich. He was treated with extra care at school because of his clubbed foot. However, due to the mistreatment of his mother coupled with her uneven temper, he lacked manners and discipline in his early years. Later, between 1801 and 1805, he attended Harrow School in London, followed by Trinity College, Cambridge. It was during that time he started documenting his literary ideas on papers. Also, he got engaged in gambling, boxing, horse riding, and sensual escapades during that time. Moreover, during his stay at Cambridge, he developed a lifelong friendship with John Cam Hobhouse, a political figure and Francis Hodgson who later guided him in literary and other matters of his life.

Married Life and Tragedy

Lord Byron is a prolific literary figure. Sadly, his life is marred by a series of love affairs, including Lady Oxford and Lady Caroline Lamb. He had had a secret relationship with his half-sister, Augusta, too, who turned him down by marrying Colonel George Leigh. To distract himself, he developed an illegitimate relationship with Lady Frances Webster. He recorded his unsuccessful love affairs in his dark poems: “The Giaour”, “Lara”, “The Bride of Abydos” and “The Corsair.” However, in January 1815, he married Anne Isabella Milbanke and their daughter, Ada Lovelace, was born in the same year. Unfortunately, after a year, Isabella left him because of his suspected love affair with his half-sister. After this tragic end of their marriage, in April 1816, he left England for good.

Death

Lord Byron, one of the great poets, died of illness on the 19th of April in 1824 in Messolonghi, Greece, where he had traveled to support Grecians in their fight for independence from Turks. His body was sent to England but the clergy refused to give him space at Westminster Abbey. Therefore, his remains were buried near Newstead in a family vault.

Some Important Facts of His Life 

  1. At the age of seventeen, he secured a reputable seat in the House of Lords.
  2. He led a troubled childhood because of his schizophrenic mother and clubbed foot.
  3. He had an illegitimate affair with his half-sister,
  4. His famous pieces include: “She Walks in Beauty”, “The Curse of Minerva” and “When We Two Parted.”
  5. He played an active role in Greek’s war of independence.

His Career

Lord Byron is considered one of the most controversial, yet leading figures of the Romantic Movement in Europe. He started writing at an early age but did not publish his pieces. However, in 1806, he started gathering his poems and published the first volume of his collection privately which got poor reception. Later, in 1807 he published “Hours of Idleness” followed by English Bards and Scotch Reviewers. These publications brought him into the limelight and he became known among the literary circle of that time.

Moreover, his friendship with John Cam Hobhouse further accelerated his literary career. Together they flew to Greece, Turkey, Malta, Albania, and Portugal. It was during that time he started working on his epic poem, ‘Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage’ which hit the shelves in 1811. Later in 1816, he traveled to Geneva and Switzerland with Shelley and Mary Godwin. Also, he completed the third canto of his poem, “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage” during this time. Besides poetry, he edited the Carbonari newspaper, The Liberal.

His Style

Lord Byron was a leading figure of the Romantic Movement. His specific ideas about life and nature benefitted the world of literature. Marked by Hudibrastic verse, blank verse, allusive imagery, heroic couplets, and complex structures, his diverse literary pieces won global acclaim. However, his early work, Fugitive Pieces, brought him to the center of criticism, but his later works made inroads into the literary world. He successfully used blank verse and satire in his pieces to explore the ideas of love and nature. Although he is known as a romantic poet, his poems, “The Prisoner of Chillon” and “Darkness” where attempts to discuss reality as it is without adding fictional elements. The recurring themes in most of his pieces are nature, the folly of love, realism in literature, liberty and the power of art.

Lord Byron’s Famous Works 

  • Best Poems: Lord Byron is a great English poet, some his popular poems include: “She Walks in Beauty”, “Darkness”, “There Be None of Beauty’s Daughter”, “The Eve of Waterloo”, “When We Two Parted” and “And Thou Art Dead, As Young and Fair.”
  • Other Works: Besides poetry, he tried his hands on the tragedy in verse form. Some of them include The Two Foscari: A Historical Tragedy, Sardanapalus, Marino Faliero and The Prophecy of Dante.

Lord Byron’s Impact on Future Literature

Lord Byron’s unique literary ideas brought new perspectives for English literature. His distinctive writing approach and experimentation with epics and lyrics made him stand out even among the best poets. His narrative and lyrical works are regarded as masterpieces and had had significant impacts on generations. He successfully documented his ideas and feelings about historical tragedies and romanticism in his writings that even today, writers try to imitate his unique style, considering him a beacon for writing plays and poetry.

Famous Quotes

  1. “What is the end of Fame? ‘is but to fill
    A certain portion of uncertain paper:
    Some liken it to climbing up a hill,
    Whose summit, like all hills, is lost in vapor?
    For this men write, speak, preach, and heroes kill,
    And bards burn what they call their “midnight taper,”
    To have, when the original is dust,
    A name, a wretched picture, and worse bust.” (Don Juan)
  1. Oh! Too convincing–dangerously dear–
    In woman’s eye the unanswerable tear!
    That weapon of her weakness she can wield,
    To save, subdue–at once her spear and shield. (The Corsair) 
  1. Sorrow is Knowledge: they who know the most
    Must mourn the deepest o’er the fatal truth,
    The Tree of Knowledge is not that of Life. (Manfred)

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