Introduction, Part 1 to the Life & Works of
Lord Byron's whole biography is a moral tale. While Byron was born an aristocrat, he led the life of a vagabond. He was a genius subject only to his own ruling passions. He was born with a malformation of one foot, which left him with a life long limp. Notwithstanding, he grew up to be a dark and handsome man; the women liked Byron and he liked the women; his sexual exploits are legend. Byron spent a significant part of his adult life on the continent, making his first trip in 1809 with his school chum, John Hobhouse. Hobhouse returned to England leaving Byron to go on to Greece by himself. During this eastern trip Byron wrote the first two cantos of Childe Harold, which tells the story of his tour. On his return to England, he arranged for its publication and it "took the town by storm; seven editions were sold in a month." Byron then tried to settle down into a regular aristocratic life, even to the point of getting himself married (it lasted but a few months); but, for Byron, none of it worked very well. By 1821, Byron was permanently living in Italy where he became part of a romantic literary circle, one of whom was Shelley. Byron was to get himself caught up with the war between the Greeks and the Turks, and, in 1824, Byron embarked for Greece. Shortly, thereafter, at the age of 36, he died.
Byron became an idol of the romantic movement, a symbol of the heady times that extended from the 1790s to the 1830s. He represented one extreme of these highly political times.3 A model has been made of him, "The Byronic Hero": brave, proud, masterful with a general contempt for his fellows.4
Or, GO TO
TABLE OF CONTENTS.