January 22, 1788, London


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January 22, 1788, London

  • January 22, 1788, London

  • son of :

  • Captain John 'Mad Jack' Byron and his second wife, Catherine Gordon, a Scottish heiress;

  • his paternal grandfather was the younger brother of the 5th Baron Byron, while his maternal grandfather was a descendant of King James I.

  • His father was mostly absent, returning home occasionally to beg money from his wife.

  • he may have married Catherine for her money and, after squandering it, deserted her.

  • Byron's mother had to sell her land and title to pay her husband's debts.

  • 1790: Byron was taken by his mother to Aberdeen, Scotland where she still had some relatives;

  • Byron and his mother were penniless.

  • 1791: Byron's father died in France, possibly a suicide.



Extremely sensitive about his physical problem;

  • Extremely sensitive about his physical problem;

  • His mother behaviour didn’t help his psychological balance: she had love-hate feelings for her beautiful lame son and mocked him for his deformity.

  • George’s nursemaid contributed to upset his balance.

  • She…

  • gave him a severe Calvinist education, characterised by strict moral standards and considering pleasure to be wrong or not necessary;

  • initiated him into sex at the age of nine;

  • threatening him with hell if he revealed their secret.

  • May Gray, would come to bed with him at night and "play tricks with his person". According to Byron, this "caused the anticipated melancholy(=sadness) of my thoughts—having anticipated life". Gray was dismissed supposedly for beating Byron when he was 11.



1798: he inherited the title and the Byron estates and moved with his mother to Newstead Abbey, ancestral home of the Byrons.

  • 1798: he inherited the title and the Byron estates and moved with his mother to Newstead Abbey, ancestral home of the Byrons.

  • 1801: he entered Harrow school and then moved to Cambridge where he started to devote himself to poetry.

  • 1806: his first volume of poems, “Fugitive Pieces”, was privately printed.

  • After his friend, the Reverend John Beecher, objected to some of its more amorous verses, and in particular to the poem “To Mary”, considered as “too warm”, Byron withdrew the volume.



1807: “Poems on Various Occasions”, an expurgated version of “Fugitive Pieces”, was privately printed.

  • 1807: “Poems on Various Occasions”, an expurgated version of “Fugitive Pieces”, was privately printed.

  • Later in the year the volume appeared in a public printing as “Hours of Idleness”.

  • On 13 March, Byron took his seat in the House of Lords.

  • 1808: “Hours of Idleness” received a scathing (=scornful) critique in the Edinburgh Review.

  • On 4 July, Byron received his Master of Arts degree from Cambridge.



1809: Byron responded to the Edinburgh Review criticism with:

  • 1809: Byron responded to the Edinburgh Review criticism with:

  • “English Bards and Scotch Reviewers”, a satire, in which he mercilessly ridiculed nearly all of the prominent poets and critics in the kingdom. The work so upset some of these critics that they challenged Byron to a duel.

  • In this work Byron re-valued Augustan views on art and attacked what he considered the excesses of the Romantics.

  • In the same year, Byron left for the “grand tour”.



1809 He travelled through Portugal, Spain, Malta, and Albania, reaching Athens at the end of the year. 

  • 1809 He travelled through Portugal, Spain, Malta, and Albania, reaching Athens at the end of the year. 

  • 1810 he continued to travel through Greece and Turkey

  • The first two cantos of “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage” (1812) are the fruits of this tour. In this work Byron describes the life experiences and journeys of a young aristocrat, Childe Harold, and these correspond in many ways to Byron’s own life.

  • 1811 Byron returned to England on 14 July. His mother died soon after.

  • 1812 Byron delivered a speech in the House of Lords in which he defended the Nottingham weavers* and became the Lion of the Whig circles

  • Weaver*=someone whose job is to weave cloth by crossing threads or thin pieces under and over each other by hand or on a LOOM : hand-woven scarves



1812

  • 1812

  • Byron met his future wife for the first time. 

  • He had a scandalous affair with Lady Caroline Lamb. 

  • He had another affair with the countess of Oxford. 

  • He had one more affair with Lady Webster.

  • 1813

  • He spent a long period with his half sister Augusta, a married woman with children, to whom he was very attached;

  • 1814

  • Augusta gave birth to a daughter. There were rumours that the girl was Byron’s.

  • 1815

  • To quench the scandal he married Annabella Milbanke, a virtuous, high-principled girl from a rich family.



Byron began a series of verse tales in exotic settings:

  • Byron began a series of verse tales in exotic settings:

  • 1813

  • Publication of “The Giaour” (June) and “The Bride of Abydos” (December).

  • They reflect feelings of guilt and exultation;

  • 1814

  • Publication of “The Corsair” (January) and “Lara” (August).

  • They are marked by a gloomy and remorseful atmosphere.

  • 1815

  • “Hebrew Melodies”, a collection of lyrics containing some of Byron’s most famous poems.



At the end of 1815, on 10 December, a daughter, Augusta Ada, was born to Byron and Annabella.

  • At the end of 1815, on 10 December, a daughter, Augusta Ada, was born to Byron and Annabella.

  • One month later, early in 1816, Annabella left with the daughter accusing her husband of insanity.

  • She would never return to him.

  • Public opinion turned savagely against him

  • February 1816: publication of “The Siege of Corinth” and ”Parisina!”; they continued the series of oriental tales in verse.

  • April 1816

  • Byron, surrounded by rumours of incest, went abroad and would never return to his country.



He first visited Waterloo then reached Switzerland;

  • He first visited Waterloo then reached Switzerland;

  • Near Geneva he met P. B. Shelley, his future wife Mary Godwin, and Mary’s stepsister, Claire Clairmont;

  • He spent the summer with them, and had an affair with Claire.

  • A boat trip on the lake of Geneva provided inspiration for “The Prisoner of Chillon”, published together with the third canto of “Childe Harold” at the end of 1816.

  • Byron was deeply moved by the grandeur of the Alps which exercised a spell on him and provided the scenery for his poetic drama “Manfred” written in the autumn of 1816 and published in June 1817.



November 1816

  • November 1816

  • He travelled to Venice and had an affair with Marianna Segati, his landlord's wife. 

  • He spent three years in Venice and enjoyed the Venetian way of life.

  • Spring 1817

  • He travelled through central Italy and visited Rome;

  • His impressions of this journey appear in the fourth canto of “Childe Harold” (published in April 1818)

  • February 1818

  • Publication of “Beppo”, a merry and amusing satire on Italian manners



1818 : a period of dissipation and numerous love affairs.

  • 1818 : a period of dissipation and numerous love affairs.

  • He began his great mock-heroic poem “Don Juan”, which is a satire of the social and sexual conventions of the time and of hypocrisy in all its forms. Writers like Wordsworth and Coleridge are also attacked

  • 1819 : he moved to Ravenna, then to Pisa, spent a period on the bay of Lerici, then went to Genoa.

  • 1820 : he became involved in the Carbonari society, the Italian revolutionary movement against Austrian rule. 

  • 1821: the poetic drama “Marino Faliero” was published in April.

  • This play is based on historical facts and concerns the story of Marino Faliero, elected “doge” of Venice in 1354. This work was inspired by the Italian patriots’ struggle for independence from the Austrian rule.

  • “Don Juan” cantos III-V appeared in August,

  • The plays “Cain”, “The Two Foscari”, and “Sardanapalus” in December;

  • 1822 : “The Vision of Judgement”, his satirical masterpiece, was published



The Greek struggle for independence from Turkey attracted Byron’s interests

  • The Greek struggle for independence from Turkey attracted Byron’s interests

  • 1823

  • He armed a brigade of soldiers, the Hercules, and sailed to Greece to help the Greeks, who had risen against their Ottoman overlords.

  • However, before he saw any serious military action, Byron contracted a fever from which he died in Missolonghi on 19 April 1824.

  • He became a symbol of disinterested patriotism and a Greek national hero.

  • His body was brought to England and buried with his ancestors near Newstead.



The figure of the Byronic hero pervades much of his work, and Byron himself is considered to embody many of the characteristics of this literary figure.

  • The figure of the Byronic hero pervades much of his work, and Byron himself is considered to embody many of the characteristics of this literary figure.

  • Scholars have traced the literary history of the Byronic hero from John Milton, and many authors and artists of the Romantic movement show Byron's influence during the 19th century and beyond.

  • 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;

  • being frustrated in love by social constraints or death;

  • rebellion;

  • exile;

  • a terrible secret past;

  • arrogance;

  • overconfidence or lack of foresight;

  • a self-destructive manner.



The romantic hero introduced by Byron is a mysterious man: there is a secret in his past, some horrible sin, a fatal mistake, something unforgivable. He is an outcast: everybody can feel the presence of a shade in his past, but nobody knows what is really hidden behind the veil of time, and the romantic hero never unveils his secret. His past is wrapped in mystery as in a royal cloak; he is solitary, silent, inaccessible. He is under the shade of damnation and ruin and he is ruthless to himself as well as to everyone else. He cannot give forgiveness and never asks for mercy, abandoned as is by God and Men alike. He regrets nothing, never does he repent; in spite of his hopeless life he would change nothing in his past. He is wild and rough in his manners but he is of noble birth; his face is hard and impenetrable but beautiful. His power of fascination is as strong as strange: no woman can resist him, while men either give him friendship or extreme hostility. Destiny runs after him and he becomes destiny for anyone he meets.

  • The romantic hero introduced by Byron is a mysterious man: there is a secret in his past, some horrible sin, a fatal mistake, something unforgivable. He is an outcast: everybody can feel the presence of a shade in his past, but nobody knows what is really hidden behind the veil of time, and the romantic hero never unveils his secret. His past is wrapped in mystery as in a royal cloak; he is solitary, silent, inaccessible. He is under the shade of damnation and ruin and he is ruthless to himself as well as to everyone else. He cannot give forgiveness and never asks for mercy, abandoned as is by God and Men alike. He regrets nothing, never does he repent; in spite of his hopeless life he would change nothing in his past. He is wild and rough in his manners but he is of noble birth; his face is hard and impenetrable but beautiful. His power of fascination is as strong as strange: no woman can resist him, while men either give him friendship or extreme hostility. Destiny runs after him and he becomes destiny for anyone he meets.

  • “The Social History of Art” New York, 1956





Commonly known simply as "Harrow", it is an independent school for boys situated in the town of Harrow, in north-west London.

  • Commonly known simply as "Harrow", it is an independent school for boys situated in the town of Harrow, in north-west London.

  •  Harrow has educated boys since 1243 but was officially founded by John Lyon under a Royal Charter of Elizabeth I in 1572.

  • The school has an enrolment of approximately 800 boys spread across twelve boarding houses, all of whom board full time.

  • Harrow is famous for its many traditions and rich history, which includes a very long line of famous alumni including eight former Prime Ministers (including Winston Churchill, Pandit Nehru & Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston), numerous foreign statesmen, former and current British Lords and members of Parliament, two Kings and several other members of various royal families, and a great many notable figures in both the arts and the sciences.

  • It is one of the original nine English public schools as defined by the Public Schools Act 1868.



The first half of the eighteenth century in English literature has been called the Augustan Age, the Neoclassical Age, and the Age of Reason.

  • The first half of the eighteenth century in English literature has been called the Augustan Age, the Neoclassical Age, and the Age of Reason.

  • It ends in the 1740s with the deaths of Pope and Swift (1744 and 1745, respectively)

  • The term 'the Augustan Age' comes from the self-conscious imitation of the original Augustan writers, Virgil and Horace, by many of the writers of the period. 

  • The literature of this period which conforms to Alexander Pope's aesthetic principles (and could thus qualify as being 'Augustan') is distinguished by:

  • its striving for harmony and precision, its elegance, and its imitation of classical models such as Homer, Cicero, Virgil, and Horace.



Neoclassic works exhibit qualities of order, clarity, and stylistic decorum that are formulated in the major critical documents of the age:

  • Neoclassic works exhibit qualities of order, clarity, and stylistic decorum that are formulated in the major critical documents of the age:

  • In these works of criticism it is clearly stated that 'nature' is the true model and standard of writing.

  • This 'nature' of the Augustans, however, is not the wild, spiritual nature the romantic poets will later idealize, but nature as derived from classical theory: a rational and comprehensible moral order in the universe, demonstrating God's providential design.

  • The Augustan age ends in the 1740s with the deaths of Pope and Swift(1744 and 1745, respectively)




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