Lord Byron is recognized as one of the influential English poets of all time. If any of you happen to be a buff of literary or art history, you may recognize Byron’s role as a leading figure in the Romantic literary movement. His classics include narrative poems, such as Don Juan (1819-1824) and Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (1812-1818).
Aside from his writing, Byron also led an extraordinary life traveling throughout Europe and associating himself with other notable writers, including Mary Shelley and John William Polidori. He also had some political influence in the Greek War of Independence, where he furthered his status and name as a literary and folk hero.
Born into an already famous family (think Kardashian-scandal-level famous), Byron was connected to soldiers, politicians, and heiresses throughout his childhood and heritage. He received his education at Trinity College, engaging in even more scandal to add to the family name- from sex to fighting to gambling. His early career stemmed outside of college, where he began writing plays and published poems at just 17.
Fun fact: In true Romanticism style, Byron had romantic attachments to multiple women- many of them being distant cousins! Historians today analyze his intimacy and relationships to men, also, implying Byron as bisexual in sexual exploits throughout his life.
Byron in Romanticism and Poetry
Byron’s involvement into writing did not become noticeable until after his travels, when he published Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. The narrative poem describes a man’s account of weariness from his travels, in likeness to Byron’s own experience traveling throughout the world. It received critical and public acclaim and attention, projecting Byron into the spotlight as a talented writer and poet. Byron’s many works and poems have been collected and are preserved today.
His greatest work, or magnum opus, according Byron himself, is Don Juan. Many consider the narrative poem as one of the most important long poems in English literary history. It tells of a man, Don Juan, and his many, many relationships and sexual exploits with women. I wonder where Byron got the inspiration for that?
Lord Byron’s Byronism Legacy
Tragically, Byron passed away at the young age of 36, in true tortured artist fashion. In his time traveling around Europe, Byron also participated in the Greek War of Independence and fought for the Greeks, but unfortunately caught ill and succumbed to his cold. Despite his death at a young age, the legacy of his writing as a poet still remains.
One of Byron’s biggest legacies lies in “Byronism,” or his conception of the “Byronic hero”- a Romantic hero represented in many of Byron’s poems, first with Childe Harold. In addition, this “Byronic hero” is reflective of Byron’s own personality, and its persistence throughout English literature to modern day shows just how much of an icon he really is!
In addition to his legacy as a leading literary figure in the poetry and Romantic movement, Byron gained a reputation as a folk hero to the Greeks for his contributions as a soldier in the war. Talk about truly being able to live it all!
To read more about some influential poets throughout history, check more articles here!