The Romantic Movement, also called Romanticism, was an important part of the history of literature and the arts. It can be characterized by the free expression of the emotions of writers and artists, which was in contrast with the ideals of Classicism. This movement took place during the late 18th century to the early 19th century. One of the most prominent figures during this time was Lord Byron. In this short biography, you will learn about his personal life, travels and literary career, as well as his last years.
London, was the place of birth to this brilliant poet and playwright. He was born on January 22, 1788 with the real name of George Gordon Noel Byron. Lord Byron came from an aristocratic family and was the 6th Baron of the Byron family. When he was three years old, his father died; but it was from his great- uncle William Byron that he formally inherited his title when he turned 10 years old. Aside from the title, Lord Byron also became the heir of Lord William’s property in Nottinghamshire, England (Newstead Abbey).
After two years, he went to Harrow School to study grammar. It was during this time when he had his first sexual encounters with both sexes. In 1803, he fell in love with his cousin, Mary Chaworth and he expressed it in his poems Hills of Annesley and The Adieu.
Lord Byron became a student of Trinity College from 1805 to 1808. Here, he was involved in a lot of sexual encounters and engaged himself in boxing, horse riding, and gambling. In the year 1807, he became friends with John Cam Hobhouse who became his companion in many of his travels. It was also during this time when he became a part of the Cambridge Whig Club, where he was first exposed to liberal politics.
His first volume of poetry called Hours of Idleness, was published before he finished his studies. But the book received really bad reviews from the literary community, which he didn’t take lightly. So, he wrote English Bards and Scotch Reviewers to get back at them. Surprisingly, he became recognized because of the witty poem.
When Lord Byron turned 21, he claimed his position in the House of Lords. After one year, he traveled the Mediterranean Sea with his friend, John Cam Hobhouse, and started writing Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage was basically about his adventures and reflections about his travels to many foreign lands.
In 1811, Lord Byron returned to London from his grand tour when his mother died. Despite of his mother’s inadequacies, he became depressed because of her death, and resorted to engaging in several love affairs to recover from his misery. He became involved with Lady Caroline Lamb, Lady Oxford, and his half-sister named Augusta. He became guilty of this series of love affairs and wrote the dark poems, The Bride of Abydos (1813), The Giaour (1813), and The Corsair (1814).
In 1815, he got married to Anne Isabella Milbanke (Annabella Milbanke), who was an intellectual. In the month of December of the same year, they had a daughter named Augusta Ada, also known as Ada Lovelace. However, by January of the next year, Annabella took their child with her and left Lord Byron. She couldn’t tolerate his drinking problem, debts, relationship with Augusta, and rumored bisexuality.
After three months (April 1816), Lord Byron traveled to Geneva, Switzerland and continued writing Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. Here, he wrote about his travels from Belgium to Switzerland, through the Rhine river. Aside from continuing Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, he also wrote the poetic-drama, Manfred, while traveling to Bernese Oberland.
Lord Byron and John Hobhouse traveled to Italy in October 1816. Again, he had several love affairs while in the country and even wrote about his experiences in the poem Don Juan. In 1818, he met Teresa Guiccioli, a 19-year old countess who was already married. Despite of this, they fell in love and the countess left her husband to be with Lord Byron.
Teresa’s father made Lord Byron join the Carbonari society which was devoted to setting Italy free from the Austrians. From 1821 to 1822, he became the editor of the Carbonari society’s newspaper called The Liberal.
In 1823, he got an invitation from the Greeks, asking him to support them in fighting for their freedom from the Ottoman Empire. He accepted this request and gave 4,000 pounds for the naval fleet of the Greeks. Aside from that, he himself took command of an entire unit of Greek fighters who fought against the Turks.
However, in February 1824, his health deteriorated. The doctors who attempted to help him accidentally worsened his condition and Lord Byron got an infection. He died on April 19, 1824 in Missolonghi, Greece, due to a bad fever. His body was brought back to England and was buried in the vault at his ancestral home near Newstead. He became a hero in Greece and his memorial was placed in Westminster Abbey in 1969. Until now, his reputation as a gifted poet and iconic figure of the 19th century remains unscathed.