Regency Novel, Dangerous Deceit by Romy Gemmell, is due from Champagne Books in May 2011.
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.”
Sunday, February 27, 2011
I'm reading: LORD BYRON APPEARS IN ROSEMARY GEMMELL'S DANGEROUS DECEITTweet this! Posted by Angelica Hart and Zi at 6:00 AM