Notoriously dubbed by Lady Caroline Lamb (a former lover) “Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to know”, George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, FRS has gone down as one of literature’s most romantic ne’er do wells and scoundrels.

Dogged by affairs and rumours of affairs and bisexuality, mounting debts, and the scandal of formal separation from his wife, Byron eventually fled to the Continent in 1816, never to return to England. He had already become a celebrity for his poetry by then (with cantos I&II of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage‘s coming out in 1812).

He continued to write prolifically, living mainly in Italy. However, even his death contributed to his romantic mystique, since he eventually died of disease in Missolonghi, caught while fighting with the Greeks against the Ottoman Empire. To this day he has heroic status in Greece.

Byron himself both depicted in his verse and embodied in his life what became known as the Byronic Hero: a man of passions and action, aristocratic without being a respecter of rank, encumbered by a dark past but immersed in noble causes. I actively seek out first editions of the great poet.

For more, visit The Byron Society.

Byron (by Richard Westall, 1813)