Lord Byron FRS

English poet George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, later George Gordon Noel, 6th Baron Byron, FRS was born 22 January 1788.When Byron’s great-uncle, the “wicked” Lord Byron, died on 21 May 1798, the 10-year-old boy became the 6th Baron Byron of Rochdale and inherited the ancestral home, Newstead Abbey, in Nottinghamshire and leased it to Lord Grey de Ruthyn, among others, during Byron’s adolescence. Described as “a woman without judgment or self-command”, Catherine either spoiled and indulged her son or aggravated him with her capricious stubbornness. Her drinking disgusted him, and he often mocked her for being short and corpulent”. Upon the death of Byron’s mother-in-law Judith Noel, the Hon. Lady Milbanke, in 1822, he changed his surname to “Noel” in order to inherit half of her estate And obtained a Royal Warrant. Byron received his early formal education at Aberdeen Grammar School, and in August 1799 entered the school of Dr. William Glennie, in Dulwich.

His mother interfered with his studies, often withdrawing him from school, with the result that he lacked discipline and his classical studies were neglected. From 1801 until 1805 he attended Harrow. Byron fell in love with Mary Chaworth, whom he met while at school, and refused to return to Harrow in September 1803. Byron finally returned in January 1804, and became friends with John FitzGibbon, 2nd Earl of Clare — four years Byron’s junior. He later wrote nostalgic poems about his Harrow friendships, Childish Recollections(1806). He later attended Trinity College, Cambridge. where he met and formed a close friendship with the younger John Edleston, John Cam Hobhouse and Francis Hodgson, a Fellow at King’s College .While not at school or college, Byron lived with his mother in Southwell, Nottinghamshire.While there, he cultivated friendships with Elizabeth Pigot and her brother, John, with whom he staged two plays for the entertainment of the community. His first volumes of poetry. Fugitive Pieces was printed by Ridge of Newark, which contained poems written when Byron was only 14. However, it was promptly recalled and burned on the advice of his friend, the Reverend Thomas Beecher, on account of its more amorous verses, particularly the poem To Mary. His next collection of Poems Hours of Idleness, was followed by his first major satire, English Bards and Scotch Reviewers (1809). Which upset many of his critics who challenged Byron to a duel; however over time, in subsequent editions it became a mark of prestige to be the target of Byron’s pen. After returning from his travels, he published the poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, in 1812. He followed up with the poem’s last two cantos, “Oriental Tales”: The Giaour, The Bride of Abydos, The Corsair and Lara.

Byron racked up numerous debts as a young man, and had a “reckless disregard for money” And from 1809 to 1811, Byron went on the Grand Tour, then customary for a young nobleman. The Napoleonic Wars forced him to avoid most of Europe, and he instead turned to the Mediterranean. He had read about the Ottoman and Persian lands as a child, was attracted to Islam (especially Sufi mysticism). He travelled from England over Portugal, Spain and the Mediterranean to Albania and spent time at the court of Ali Pasha of Ioannina, and in Athens with his friend John Cam Hobhouse. When visiting Portugal Byron particularly enjoyed his stay in Sintra that is described in Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage as “glorious Eden”. From Lisbon he travelled overland to Seville, Jerez de la Frontera, Cadiz, Gibraltar and from there by sea on to Malta and Greece.While in Athens, Byron met 14-year-old Nicolò Giraud and taught him Italian Before sending him to school at a monastery in Malta. Whilst in Athens Byron wroteMaid of Athens. Byron made his way to Smyrna, where he and Hobhouse cadged a ride to Constantinople on HMSSalsette. Then went to Malta and returned to England from Malta in June 1813 aboard HMS Volage

Byron again left England, Travelling through Belgium up the Rhine River, Settling at the Villa Diodati by Lake Geneva, Switzerland, with his personal physician, the young, brilliant, and handsome John William Polidori. There Byron befriended the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Shelley’s future wife Mary Godwin. He was also joined by Mary’s stepsister,Claire Clairmont. Kept indoors at the Villa Diodati by the “incessant rain over three days in June, the five turned to reading fantastical stories, including Fantasmagoriana, and then devising their own tales. Mary Shelley produced what would become Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, and Polidori was inspired by a fragmentary story of Byron’s, Fragment of a Novel, to produce The Vampyre, the progenitor of the romantic vampire genre. Byron’s story fragment was published as a postscript to Mazeppa; he also wrote the third canto of Childe Harold. Whilst in Venice Byron fell in love with Marianna Segati, and 22-year-old Margarita Cogni; both married women.Cogni could not read or write, and she left her husband to move into Byron’s Venice house.Their fighting often caused Byron to spend the night in his gondola; when he asked her to leave the house, she threw herself into the Venetian canal.Ultimately, Byron resolved to escape the disapproval of British society of his living arrangements by living abroad, and did not return for the last eight years of his life.

In 1816, Byron visited San Lazzaro degli Armeni in Venice, and studied Armenian culture with the help of the abbots belonging to the Mechitarist Order. With the help of Father H. Avgerian, he learned the Armenian language And attended many seminars about language and history. He wrote English Grammar and Armenian(Kerakanutyun angğiakan yev hayeren) in 1817, and Armenian Grammar and English(Kerakanutyun hayeren yev angğiakan) in 1819, including quotations fromclassical and modern Armenian. Byron also participated in the compilation of the English Armenian dictionary (Barraran angghieren yev hayeren, 1821) and wrote the preface in which he explained the relationship of the Armenians with and the oppression of the Turkish “pashas” and the Persian satraps, and their struggle of liberation. His two main translations are the Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, two chapters of Movses Khorenatsi’s History of Armenia and sections of Nerses of Lambron’s Orations. He studied the legend of Armenian patriarch Haik and his ideological courage has inspired many Armenian poets, the likes of Ghevond Alishan, Smbat Shahaziz, Hovhannes Tumanyan, Ruben Vorberian and others. In 1817, he journeyed to Rome. On returning to Venice, he wrote the fourth canto of Childe Harold and published Manfred, Cain and The Deformed Transformed. The first five cantos of Don Juan were written between 1818 and 1820, during which he eloped with Countess Guiccioli, and later married her. Between 1819 and 1821 Lord Byron lived in Ravenna where he continued the Don Juan and wrote the Ravenna Diary, My Dictionary and Recollections. From 1821 to 1822, he finished Cantos 6–12 of Don Juan at Pisa, and published a newspaper called “The Liberal” with Leigh Hunt and Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Byron started giving dinner parties; his guests included the Shelleys, Edward Ellerker Williams, Thomas Medwin, John Taaffe and Edward John Trelawney; and “never”, as Shelley said, “did he display himself to more advantage than on these occasions; being at once polite and cordial, full of social hilarity and the most perfect good humour; never diverging into ungraceful merriment, and yet keeping up the spirit of liveliness throughout the evening.”Shelley and Williams rented a house on the coast and had a schooner built. Byron decided to have his own yacht, and engaged Trelawny’s friend, Captain Daniel Roberts, to design and construct the boat. Named the Bolivar, it was later sold to Charles John Gardiner, 1st Earl of Blessington, and Marguerite, Countess of Blessington, when Byron left for Greece in 1823. Byron attended the funeral of Shelley, which was orchestrated by Trelawny after Williams and Shelley drowned in a boating accident on 8 July 1822. His last Italian home was Genoa, where he was still accompanied by the Countess Guiccioli, however, in 1823, while growing bored with his life there, he accepted overtures for his support from representatives of the movement for Greek independence from theOttoman Empire.With the assistance of his banker and Captain Daniel Roberts, Byron chartered the Brig Hercules to take him to Greece. On 16 July, Byron left Genoa arriving atKefalonia on 4 August.

Byron chartered the Hercules And Between 1815 and 1823 the vessel was in service between England and Canada. Suddenly in 1823, the ship’s Captain decided to sail to Genoa and offer the Hercules for charter. After taking Byron to Greece, the ship returned to England, never again to venture into the Mediterranean. “The Hercules ran aground on 21 September 1852, aground near Hartlepool, only 25 miles south of Sunderland, where in 1815, her keel was laid.”Byron spent £4000 of his own money to refit the Greek fleet, then sailed for Missolonghi in western Greece, arriving on 29 December, to join Alexandros Mavrokordatos, a Greek politician with military power.When the famous Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen heard about Byron’s heroics in Greece, he voluntarily resculpted his earlier bust of Byron in Greek marble. Mavrokordatos and Byron planned to attack the Turkish-held fortress of Lepanto, at the mouth of the Gulf of Corinth. Byron employed a fire-master to prepare artillery and took part of the rebel army under his own command, despite his lack of military experience, but before the expedition could sail, on 15 February 1824, he fell ill, and the usual remedy of bloodletting weakened him further.He made a partial recovery, but in early April he caught a violent cold which therapeutic bleeding, insisted on by his doctors, aggravated. It is suspected this treatment, carried out with unsterilised medical instrumentation, may have caused him to develop sepsis. He developed a violent fever, and died on 19 April 1824.

Had Byron lived and gone on to defeat the Ottomans, he might have been declared King of Greece. Greeks mourned Lord Byron deeply, and he became a hero.The national poet of Greece, Dionysios Solomos, wrote a poem about the unexpected loss, named To the Death of Lord Byron. He is buried at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire. At her request, Ada Lovelace, the child he never knew, was buried next to him. There is a duplicate of a marble slab given by the King of Greece, which is laid directly above Byron’s grave. Trinity College, Cambridge, have a statue of Byron in its library. In 1969, 145 years after Byron’s death, a memorial to him was finally placed in Westminster Abbey And On a very central area of Athens, Greece, outside the National Garden, is a statue depicting Greece in the form of a woman crowning Byron. The statue was made by the French Henri-Michel Chapu and Alexandre Falguière. Upon his death, the barony passed to Byron’s cousin George Anson Byron, a career naval officer.

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