George Gordon Byron, referred to these days as simply Lord Byron, was one of the leading poets of the English Romantic period. Born on this day 232 years ago in 1788, he died aged 36. Byron was known for being subversive, racy and more than a bit eccentric – and just wait until you hear about his pet in college.
Byron was born in London to parents Catherine Gordon and Captain John “Mad Jack” Byron. Mad Jack married heiress Catherine, allegedly for her money. He gambled most of her fortune and fathered George before then dying in 1791. Rumors circulated that he had a grisly end, but tuberculosis is more likely.
One thing that Byron was known for, both in the 1800s and today, was his rampant promiscuity and his hazy sexuality. Like a lot of other literary heroes (looking at YOU, Joyce), he got it on with many people, to the detriment of his own health, and he was diagnosed with syphilis and gonorrhea by the time he turned twenty-one. His romantic history includes a roster of relatives, like cousin Mary Chaworth and half-sister Augusta. While in education he experimented with young men, young women, not-so-young married women. Basically, he was busy.
thinkin’ bout boys (and girls) via wikipedia
Always the rebel, Byron was constantly breaking rules and basically being the O.G. Romantic Bad Boy. One of his lovers once described him as “Mad, bad and dangerous to know”. You know the type. He’ll write you poetry one day but break your heart two weeks later by asking your sister out (or his own, apparently). He is said to have enjoyed scaring people or making them uncomfortable. Allegedly, he had a tame bear during his time at Cambridge that he would walk around campus. This was in answer to his college denying his request to have a dog. Disclaimer: Bookstr does NOT recommend this as a method of working around your dorm’s pet allowances!
Since Byron was so busy ahem, dallying, with so many people, it should come as no surprise that he fathered a few children. He had some rumored, out-of-wedlock children, like Allegra Byron, alongside legitimate daughter Ada Lovelace. Allegra sadly died of typhus, aged 5. Ada, however, grew to be one of the first software developers, having worked on very early computer software, a.k.a the Analytical Engine.
image via brittanica
Aside from writing, shocking and sinning, Byron’s other passion was Greece. No, not the 1978 classic film, the country. George donated a lot of his own fortune to the revolution in Greece. A War of Independence was being fought and Byron wanted to take part and fight alongside them against the Ottoman Empire. Sadly, he caught a terrible cold while abroad and it was a resultant fever that took him out in the end.
Bad Boy Lord Byron is celebrated today as a true Romantic poet. His narrative works Don Juan – all seventeen cantos of it!! -and Childe Harolde are renowned still. He moved in some seriously impressive circles, staying with the Shelleys in Italy as Frankenstein was being concocted. Despite his debauchery and his less-than-savory hobbies, he was passionate about his craft and wrote some beautiful poems which still resonate in a more modern age.
image via pinterest
Happy Birthday, Byron! Were he alive today, we have little doubt that his birthday bash would be of the strip club and shots kind. After all, he wasn’t Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know for nothing!
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Featured image via Poetry Foundation