Byron was a romantic poet who was extremely handsome but lame. His staggering gait resulting from his lameness later became a fashion in the socialite societies throughout Europe. His childhood was dominated by a stern Calvinist mother who sexually abused him and often beat him. His incestuous relationship with his half- sister, Augusta Leigh, developed into a close friendship.
Byron received education at Harrow and Cambridge where he gained a reputation for atheism, radicalism and loose-living, keeping a bear as a pet for sometime. He travelled across to Greece in 1810, involving himself in self-conscious romantic adventures. Lionized in society and pursued by various women, Byron ended by marrying Anne Isabella Milbauke in 1815. The marriage proved a flop and all his reputation was suddenly tarnished so much so that he left England in 1816 most despondently, never to return to his native place. He met P.B. Shelley and Mary Godwin in Switzerland where he had relationship with Claimant, Mary’s half-sister who gave birth to a daughter by Byron, but she died in infancy.
Subsequently, he travelled to Italy where after a #period of sexual promiscuity with all kinds of women, he fell in love with Teresa Guiccioli, the 19 year old wife of an Italian nobleman. After the death of Shelley in 1822, Byron is decided to participate to the cause of Greek independence.
“When a man hath no freedom to fight for at home,
Let him combat for that of his neighbours;
Let him think of the glories of Greece and of Rome,
And get knock’d on the head for his labours.”
Byron suffered frustrations in Greece including a ted disappointed passion for a Greek youth, Louka. He also try, started feeling his age and wrote a lyric ‘On This Day I ant Complete My Thirty-Six Year.’ Shortly afterwards he died of malaria in 1824.
It is seen that Byron’s letters are more vivid than his verse. His autobiographical journal was destroyed after his death but many of his letters were published by his friend Thomas Moore in 1830.
His works are :
(a) Hours of Idleness (1807): These were unremarkable lyrics which were published when Byron was only 19.
(b) English Bards and Scotch Reviewers (1809): He wrote this poem in imitation of Pope and used in it a vigorous but immature heroic couplet.
(c) Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage-Canto I and II (1812): It is a moody, self-dramatizing poem in Spenserian stanza.
(d) The Bridge of Abydos and The Giaour (1813): These two poems are written in tetrameter couplets.
(e) The Corsair and Lara (1814): These poems are written in loose heroic couplets. They were very popular in Byron’s time but they are hardly read now.
(f) Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage: Canto III (1816)
(a) The Prisoner of Chillon (1816)
(b) Manfred (1817): It is a gloom laden drama which appears to be a parody of Goethe’s ‘Faust’.
(c) The Deformed Transformed (1824)
- Other Works:
(a) Don Juan (1819-24)
(b) The Vision of Judgement (1822)
(c) Beppo (1818)