Sunday, February 27, 2011


Regency Novel, Dangerous Deceit by Romy Gemmell, is due from Champagne Books in May 2011.

Lord Byron
By Rosemary Gemmell

He was the original ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’ hero, as his one-time lover, Lady Caroline Lamb, named him. And perhaps he was the model for the moody, romantic hero in famous literature. Think of the dark and brooding men from three of the classics: Jane Austen’s Mr Darcy, Charlotte Bronte’s Mr Rochester and Emily Bronte’s Heathcliff.

Born in 1788, George Gordon, the 6th Lord Byron, went on to epitomise the romance of Regency England. His father was profligate gambler Captain John Byron, who deserted his wife and child, but his mother was Scottish heiress Catherine Gordon and Byron spent his early life with her in Aberdeen. He left Scotland when his great-uncle William died and left him the baronial title and estate at Newstead Abbey in Nottinghamshire.

Byron began his writing life, and reputation for high-spirited behaviour, at Cambridge. After travelling around Europe and Greece for two years, Byron returned, aged twenty four, and his days of fame and notoriety began. The first and second canto of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage elevated him to the ranks of literary genius. Byron himself remarked, “I awoke one morning and found myself famous.”

Byron was hugely attractive to women, which cause him a great deal of trouble. Sir Walter Scott described him as having “the remarkable contrast of very dark hair and eyebrows with light and expressive eyes.” Young, aristocratic, a romantic wanderer, and a poetic genius, Byron was in great demand.

But his scandalous love affairs, and rumours of incest, soon brought Byron down. The society who had idolised him began to snub him. With rising debts and hounded by bailiffs, Byron left England in 1816, just 28 years old and at the pinnacle of his fame. He recognised it was partly his own fault. Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, ends with the words:

“I planted – they have torn me – and I bleed:
I should have known what fruit would spring from
Such a seed.”

Byron’s stature as a poet continued to grow, especially on publication of Don Juan, a commentary on the society that had rejected him. He finally went to Greece, where he formed the ‘Byron Brigade’ to give support to the Greeks’ fight for independence. They hailed him a hero. Lord Byron died at Missolonghi, aged 36.

His burial was refused in Westminster Abbey and he was buried in the family vault in the church at Huchnall Torkard, near Newstead Abbey. Byron had the last word, however, exposing the double standards, politics and social relations of Regency England in Don Juan:

“Without, or with, offence to friends or foes,I sketch your world exactly as it goes.”



  1. Wow, Thanks for all of the background info...I knew he was a famous poet but had never relaly learned anything else about him. What an interesting character, it will be interesting to see what part he plays in your upcoming story "Dangerous Deceit".

  2. Very good expose, Rosemary. You've intrigued me further.


  3. Poetry forms the basis of all great writing, and who can't resist knowing a bit more about Lord Byron. As Maria said, can't wait to see how he plays out in your book.

  4. I enjoyed reading this, Rosemary. Who would not fall for a man like that?

  5. Thanks for the comment, Maria - he must have been a fascinating man.

  6. Thanks for commenting, Julie, Angelica and Zi. Maybe I should have a based the whole novel around Lord Byron!

  7. Hi Teresa - thanks for dropping in here. I only hope my hero in Dangerous Deceit is as attractive in the scene where they appear together!

  8. Great piece, Rosemary. I really enjoyed reading about the mad, bad and dangerous to know Lord Byron. Here in Aberdeenshire and Banffshire in north-east Scotland we kind of consider him to be one of our own!

  9. Hi Maggie - good of you to leave a message, thanks. I don't wonder that you claim him up north. I could have added more but didn't want to make it too long!

  10. He lived such a short life and yet achieved so much with both his art and his notoriety. He epitomises the romantic rogue and you made me want to know more. Fascinating piece - can’t wait to read your novel!

  11. Thanks for leaving a comment, Janice! Romantic indeed - but my hero is a little less of a rogue!

  12. Never gave the guy a thought before reading your excellent write-up on him.
    Wish I'd been born in HIS time and in Aberdeen, not in Pumpherston where I was brought up. Maybe we'd have hit it off anbd he could've taught me how to write poetry!
    Can't wazit to see what you've made him get up to in Dangerous Deceit.

    Chris Gibbs

  13. I didn't realise he died so young- he packed a lot of writing (and drama) into a short life. Look forward to reading your book!

  14. I LOVE Lord Byron. Did you know he also had a club foot? He's the one poet I can quote off by heart, and I never fail to bring a volume of his poems with me if I travel.

    Great post, Rosemary!

  15. Just noticed your post, Lindsay! Thanks for commenting - yes, I did know about his foot but left it out of this piece.

    And yes, he did pack a lot in, Vikki!