Baron George Gordon Byron

1 Books

Lord Byron (1788-1824) was a British politician and poet. Born in London to a family of aristocrats and military officers, Byron was raised in Aberdeen, Scotland, where he struggled in school and was prone to violent outbursts. As a young man, he studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, gaining a reputation as a gambler, fighter, and womanizer. In 1809, he embarked on a tour of the Mediterranean, traveling to Portugal, Spain, Sardinia, Malta, Greece, and Constantinople. Byron returned to England in 1811 and published the first two cantos of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage in 1812, launching his career as a literary sensation. In 1815, he married the mathematician Annabella Millbanke; their daughter Ada would go on to a successful mathematician and pioneer of computer science. By 1816, however, the pair divorced over Byron’s reckless behavior and serial infidelity, and the poet was forced to leave England due to scandal and insurmountable debt. He spent the rest of his life abroad, arriving in the summer of 1816 in Geneva, where he befriended Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Godwin. Their time at the Villa Diodati that rainy summer, which they spent writing and sharing stories and poems, is seen as a landmark moment in Romanticism. Mary (who would later marry Shelley and take his last name) composed her novel Frankenstein, while Byron continued his work on Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. Later that year, he left for Venice and became interested in Armenian culture and independence. In 1818, while in Venice, he began his epic poem Don Juan, which he would continue for the next several years. He became involved with the movement for Greek independence in 1823, raising a substantial amount of money for the cause and preparing, in 1824, to launch an attack on a Turkish fortress on the Gulf of Corinth. He fell ill before the expedition set sail, however, and died in April of that year.

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