“Mad, bad, and dangerous to know.”
These were the words that Lord Byron’s contemporaries used to describe the late poet.
Lord Byron’s father died when he was only three, with the result that he inherited his title as ‘lord’ and subsequent property from his great uncle in 1798. Following this, he went on to Dulwich, Harrow, and Cambridge, where he amassed huge debts and stirred alarms with bisexual love affairs. It was while living in Newstead in 1802, that he first met his half-sister, Augusta Leigh with whom he was suspected of having an incestuous relationship.
“Man, being reasonable, must get drunk; the best of life is but intoxication.”
Lord Byron was to become one of the most celebrated poets of British literary history. Even though his writing style was largely classical, he would become one of the prominent figures of the Romantic school of British poetry together with the likes of Wordsworth, Shelley, and Keats. Lord Byron’s best-known work is of course the more than famous Don Juan.
Byron has often been compared to the Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759 – 1796). This is mostly because both of them would write from their personal impressions and emotions, exposing themselves almost completely in their work. The flip side of that, however, is that in this way both of them would also be slaves to their pressing passions. Additionally, perhaps also because of that they would both tend to sometimes doubt themselves and suffered extensively from depressed.
The flamboyant and fashionable poet was credited with creating an immensely popular ‘Byronic’ hero—defiant, melancholy, haunted by secret guilt—for which, to many, he seemed the model. In his dynamism, sexuality, self-revelation, and demands for freedom for oppressed people everywhere, Byron captivated the Western mind and heart as few writers have.
“I doubt sometimes whether a quiet and unagitated life would have suited me – yet I sometimes long for it.”