Scandalous – this is just one of the many things that describe the life and times of Lord Byron. He was intriguing alive as he was dead – in fact, his epitaph describes him as “mad, bad, and dangerous to know.”
While he has done many questionable activities, his works have earned him acclaim as one of England’s greatest poets. Here are some fascinating facts about Lord Byron, who was born in 1788 as George Gordon Byron.
Lord Byron Facts
1. He first gained popularity after responding to the critique of his first book.
Byron’s first book, named “Hours of Idleness,” was printed in 1807. It was a feat for someone who was just 19 years old. However, it was not received with positive reviews. The Edinburgh Review described Byron’s work as a ‘self-indulgent work of an entitled youth’ – to which he responded with a satiric poem entitled “English Bards and Scotch Reviewers.” His use of couplets – similar to that of Alexander Pope’s style – gained him acclaim for the satire in 1809, an interesting Lord Byron fact.
2. His love affairs inspired many great poems.
Lord Byron’s poems reflected his many scandalous relationships. In 1803, he fell in love with Mary Chaworth, a married distant cousin. His passion for her was mirrored in the “Hills of Annesley” and “The Adieu.”
His relationships with Lady Caroline Lamb, Lady Oxford, and half-sister Augusta Leigh inspired several other poems, including “The Corsair,” “The Bride of Abydos,” and “The Giaour.”
3. “Don Juan” was inspired by – you guessed it right – more love affairs!
Don Juan is one of Byron’s more popular poems. Like many of his previous works, it was inspired by the romances that he had as he sailed to Italy with John Hobhouse. Don Juan, which chronicled the womanizing namesake, bore 16 epic cantos. Unfortunately, its 17th canto was left unfinished when Byron died in 1824.
4. Lord Byron, as his name suggests, is also a politician.
In March 1809, Lord Byron took his seat in the House of Lords. A staunch advocate of social reform, he was associated with the Holland House Whigs.
Though most of his poems were inspired by his long list of love affairs, his stint as a politician resulted in several works as well. An interesting fact about Lord Byron is that he wrote several political poems which include “Song for the Luddites,” “The Landlord’s Interest,” “Wellington: The Best of the Cutthroats,” and “The Intellectual Eunuch Castlereagh.”
5. His personal life was marred with scandals.
Lord Byron’s personal life, without a doubt, was as popular as his books. His sexual conquests could be likened to adult novels as reports state that he had an encounter as early as 9 years old.
Byron was said to have engaged in an incestuous relationship with his half-sister, Augusta Leigh. He is rumored to have sired Augusta’s third daughter, Elizabeth Medora Leigh.
While he is considered a playboy given his many romantic relationships, long-lost documents suggest that Lord Byron was bisexual. It was said that the tendency started when Lord Grey De Ruthyn, his mother’s suitor, made advances on him when he was young. This made a mark on his sexuality; he continued to lay with boys while he was a student in Harlow and Cambridge.
6. Byron was close to renowned writers Percy and Mary Shelley.
Byron left England in 1816 to travel to Switzerland. Along the way, he became friends with Percy Bysshe Shelley and his second wife Mary, an important fact about Lord Byron. Like Byron, both were in exile for their scandalous love affair. When he eloped with Mary, Percy was still married to his first wife.
Despite this controversy, Percy is considered to be one of the most respected poets of the 19th century. He is known for his lyrics and long-form verses. He was the author classics “The Masque of Anarchy” and “Ode to the Wind.” His wife Mary, on the other hand, is famous for being the author of the cult classic “Frankenstein.”
Apart from bearing companionship during his exile, it was through the couple that Byron met Claire Claremont. As was expected of Byron, a romance ensued with Mary’s beautiful stepsister. Claire is the mother of Byron’s second daughter Allegra, who was born in 1817.
7. He was born with a deformed right foot.
Byron grew up with a condition called club foot. Experts, however, are still debating whether it’s hip dysplasia or a consequence of infantile paralysis. He grew conscious of this, primarily because of the painful treatments he had to undergo to correct the condition. Despite this, he called himself ‘le diable boîteux’ or the limping devil.
8. Byron has an equally-famous daughter.
Byron has two daughters, but he only has one legitimate child – Augusta Ada Byron, an interesting Lord Byron fact. He left her child – who is famously known as Ada Lovelace – just a few months after she was born to his ex-wife Lady Anne Isabella Milbanke. Sadly enough, that was the last time Byron saw his firstborn.
Despite this sob story, Lovelace’s fatherless childhood did not affect her. Growing up, she set her sights on mathematics and science – subjects that were not usually taught to girls in the 1800s. She took this passion to her teenage years as she pursued a degree in mathematics at the University of London.
Lovelace was mentored by Charles Babbage, known to many as the “father of the computer.” His works inspired her theory about engines that can repeat a series of instructions – the looping method that computers utilize today. For this, she is considered as one of the first computer programmers in the world. Her contributions are so well-regarded that the United States Department of Defense named its computer language “Ada” after her.
His romantic romps made Byron a celebrity during his lifetime. In fact, “Byromania” engulfed all the people who surrounded him. That stands true until now, where he is celebrated as one of the most influential persons in the field of literature. With these 8 interesting facts highlighting Lord Byron’s life, it cannot be denied that his life was as colorful as the poems that he had written.
I hope that this article on Lord Byron facts was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Historical People Facts Page!