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John William Polidori : Author of The Vampyre

John William Polidori : Author of The Vampyre

John William Polidori (7 September 1795 – 24 August 1821) was an English writer

800px-John_William_Polidori_by_F.G._Gainsford

and physician, and Bath native. He is known for his associations with the Romantic movement and credited by some as the creator of the vampire genre of fantasy fiction. His most successful work was the 1819 short story, The Vampyre, the first published modern vampire story. Although originally and erroneously accredited to Lord Byron, both Byron and Polidori affirmed that the story is Polidori’s.

Polidori was one of the earliest pupils at recently established Ampleforth College from 1804, and in 1810 went up to the University of Edinburgh, where he wrote a thesis on sleepwalking and received his degree as a doctor of medicine on 1 August 1815 at the age of 19.

In 1816 Dr. Polidori entered Lord Byron’s service as his personal physician, and accompanied Byron on a trip through Europe. Publisher John Murray offered Polidori 500 English pounds to keep a diary of their travels, which Polidori’s nephew William Michael Rossetti later edited. At the Villa Diodati, a house Byron rented by Lake Geneva in Switzerland, the pair met with Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, and her husband-to-be, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and their companion (Mary’s stepsister) Claire Clairmont.

One night in June, after the company had read aloud from Fantasmagoriana, a French collection of German horror tales, William Beckford’s Vathek and indulged in quantities of laudanum, Byron suggested that they each write a ghost story. Mary Shelley, in collaboration with Percy Bysshe Shelley,produced what would become Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. Shelley wrote “A Fragment of a Ghost Story” and wrote down five ghost stories recounted by Matthew Gregory (“Monk”) Lewis, published posthumously as the Journal at Geneva (including ghost stories) Polidori was inspired by a fragmentary story of Byron’s, Fragment of a Novel (1816), also known as “A Fragment” and “The Burial: A Fragment”, and in “two or three idle mornings” produced “The Vampyre“.

Dismissed on bad terms, by Byron, Polidori travelled in Italy and then returned to England. His story, “The Vampyre” was first published on 1 April 1819 by Henry Colburn in the New Monthly Magazine with the false attribution “A Tale by Lord Byron”, much to both his and Byron’s chagrin. Byron even released his own “Fragment of a Novel” in an attempt to clear up the mess, but, for better or worse, “The Vampyre” continued to be attributed to him. The name of the work’s protagonist, “Lord Ruthven”, added to this assumption, for that name was originally used in Lady Caroline Lamb’s novel Glenarvon (from the same publisher), in which a thinly-disguised Byron figure was also named Lord Ruthven. Despite repeated denials by Byron and Polidori, the authorship often went unclarified.

Vampyre_title_page_1819

The tale was first published in book form by Sherwood, Neely, and Jones in London, Paternoster-Row, in 1819 in octavo as The Vampyre; A Tale in 84 pages. The notation on the cover noted that it was: “Entered at Stationers’ Hall, March 27, 1819”. Later printings removed Byron’s name and added Polidori’s name to the title page.

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Luddites in Georgian England

The Luddites were 19th-century English textile artisans who violently protested against the machinery introduced during the Industrial Revolution that made it possible to replace them with less-skilled, low-wage labourers, leaving them without work. Historian Eric Hobsbawm has called their machine wrecking “collective bargaining by riot”, which had been a tactic used in Britain since the Restoration, as the scattering of manufactories throughout the country made large-scale strikes impractical.

The movement was named after Ned Ludd, a youth who had allegedly smashed two stocking frames 30 years earlier, and whose name had become emblematic of machine destroyers. The name evolved into the imaginary General Ludd or King Ludd, a figure who, like Robin Hood, was reputed to live in Sherwood Forest.

“The Leader of the Luddites”, published in May 1812 by Messrs. Walker and Knight, Sweetings Alley, Royal Exchange

The movement emerged during the harsh economic climate of the Napoleonic Wars, and difficult working conditions in the new textile factories. The principal objection of the Luddites was to the introduction of new wide-framed automated looms that could be operated by cheap, relatively unskilled labour, resulting in the loss of jobs for many skilled textile workers. The movement began in Nottingham in 1811 and spread rapidly throughout England in 1811 and 1812. Mills and pieces of factory machinery were burned by handloom weavers, and for a short time Luddites were so strong that they clashed in battles with the British Army. Many wool and cotton mills were destroyed before the British government suppressed the movement.

The Luddites met at night on the moors surrounding the industrial towns, practising drills and manoeuvres, and often enjoyed local support. The main areas of the disturbances were Nottinghamshire in November 1811, followed by the West Riding of Yorkshire in early 1812 and Lancashire from March 1813. Battles between Luddites and the military occurred at Burton’s Mill in Middleton, and at Westhoughton Mill, both in Lancashire. It was rumoured at the time that agents provocateurs employed by the magistrates were involved in provoking the attacks. Magistrates and food merchants were also objects of death threats and attacks by the anonymous King Ludd and his supporters. Some industrialists even had secret chambers constructed in their buildings, which may have been used as hiding places.

Frame-breakers, or Luddites, smashing a loom (1812).

Measures taken by the British government to suppress the movement included a mass trial at York in January 1813 that resulted in many executions and penal transportations. The Luddite movement can also be seen as part of a rising tide of English working-class discontent in the early 19th century (see also, for example, the Pentridge or Pentrich Rising of 1817, which was a general uprising, but led by an unemployed Nottingham stockinger and probable ex-Luddite, Jeremiah Brandreth.) An agricultural variant of Luddism, centring on the breaking of threshing machines, was crucial to the widespread Swing Riots of 1830 in southern and eastern England.Research by Kevin Binfield is particularly useful in placing the Luddite movement in historical context – as organised action by stockingers had occurred at various times since 1675, and the present action had to be seen in the context of the hardships suffered by the working class during the Napoleonic Wars.

“Machine breaking” (industrial sabotage) was subsequently made a capital crime by the Frame Breaking Act, 52 Geo. 3, c. 16 and the Malicious Damage Act of 1812, 52 Geo. 3, c. 130 – legislation which was opposed by Lord Byron, one of the few prominent defenders of the Luddites – and 17 men were executed after an 1813 trial in York. Many others were transported as prisoners to Australia. At one time, there were more British soldiers fighting the Luddites than Napoleon I on the Iberian Peninsula.Three Luddites, led by George Mellor, ambushed and assassinated a mill owner (William Horsfall from Ottiwells Mill in Marsden) at Crosland Moor, Huddersfield, Mellor firing the shot to the groin which would prove fatal. Horsfall had remarked that he would “Ride up to his saddle in Luddite blood”. The Luddites responsible were hanged in York, and shortly thereafter “Luddism” began to wane.

Many of the ideas that were encompassed within the Luddite Movement have been studied and evaluated in modern economics literature. The concept of “Skill Biased Technological Change” (SBTC) posits that technology contributes to the de-skilling of routine, manual tasks.A changing world and new technologies are usually the blame for the world’s worries.

In modern usage, “Luddite” is a term describing those opposed to industrialisation, automation, computerisation or new technologies in general.


From Wikipedia.com

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Bubble and Squeak

Alas! I must leave undescribed the gibier,
The salmi, the consommé, the purée,
All which I use to make my rhymes run glibber
Than could roast beef in our rough John Bull way:
I must not introduce even a spare rib here,
“Bubble and squeak” would spoil my liquid lay:
But I have dined, and must forego, Alas!
The chaste description even of a “bécasse;”
Lord Byron, Don Juan, Canto XV

Bubble and squeak is a traditional English dish made with the shallow-fried leftover vegetables from a roast dinner. The main ingredients are potato and cabbage, but carrots, peas, brussels sprouts, and other vegetables can be added. The cold chopped vegetables (and cold chopped meat if used) are fried in a pan together with mashed potatoes or crushed roast potatoes until the mixture is well-cooked and brown on the sides. It is often served with cold meat from the Sunday roast, and pickles.

The meat was traditionally added to the bubble and squeak itself, although nowadays it is more commonly made without meat. The name comes from the bubble and squeak sounds made as it cooks. The earliest printed recipe can be found in  Mrs. Maria Eliza Ketelby Rundell’s 1806  edition of,  A New System of Domestic Cookery: Founded up Principles of Economy; and Adapted to the Use of Private Families.

 A New System of Domestic Cookery was the most popular English cookbook of the first half of the nineteenth century; it is often referred to simply as “Mrs. Rundell”. The first edition  was a short collection of recipes published by John Murray. It went through dozens of editions, both legitimate and pirated, in both Britain and the United States, where the first edition was published in 1807. The frontispiece typically credited the authorship to “A Lady”. Later editions included many contributions by Emma Roberts.

Bubble-and-Squeak
Cut slices from a cold round of beef; let them be fried quickly until brown, and put them into a dish to keep hot. Clean the pan from the fat; put into it greens and carrots previously boiled and chopped small; add a little butter, pepper, and salt; make them very hot, and put them round the beef with a little gravy. Cold pork boiled is a better material for bubble-and-squeak than beef, which is always hard; in either case the slices should be very thin and lightly fried.
A New System of Domestic Cookery: Founded up Principles of Economy; and Adapted to the Use of Private Families

by Maria Eliza Ketelby Rundell

The major ingredients of “Bubble and Squeak” are potatoes and cabbage, though it can include other veggies (consider Brussels sprouts, peas, carrots. ) Chopped meat is also often added, although the original recipe suggests serving it with “raredone beef, lightly fried.”

Mainly prepared using previously cooked “left over” ingredients, it is a quick snack and often prepared for breakfast.  It is such a quintessential British recipe– as much a comfort food as Macaroni and Cheese is to Americans, that it was served (in elegant, royal form) as an appetizer Prince William and Catherine Middleton’s wedding reception last April!

The modern version begins with left-over, boiled vegetables and mashed potatoes (Food Network Chef, Jamie Oliver,  suggests that the recipe should be a bit more than half potatoes.) Chopped meat, such as sausage, bacon or the end of a roast can be added.

  1. Heat some butter or oil in a pan.
  2. Mash your potatoes and vegetables together and mix in the meat.
  3. Create a thick “vegetable pancake” and fry it in the oil.
  4. Flip the mixture so that both sides are crispy and lightly browned.

Serve hot or cold!

 


 

Historical information from Wikipedia.com. Recipe suggestions from Bubble and squeak: A British breakfast favorite.

 

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George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron: “Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know”

I have read [Byron’s] The Corsair, mended my petticoat, and have nothing else to do.”
Jane Austen to Cassandra
March 5, 1814

George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, later George Gordon Noel, 6th Baron Byron, FRS (22 January 1788 – 19 April 1824), commonly known simply as Lord Byron, was a British poet and a leading figure in Romanticism. Amongst Byron’s best-known works are the brief poems She Walks in Beauty, When We Two Parted, and So, we’ll go no more a Roving, in addition to the narrative poems Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage and Don Juan. He is regarded as one of the greatest British poets and remains widely read and influential, both in the English-speaking world and beyond.

Byron’s notability rests not only on his writings but also on his life, which featured aristocratic excesses, huge debts, numerous love affairs, and self-imposed exile. He was famously described by Lady Caroline Lamb as “mad, bad and dangerous to know”. Byron served as a regional leader of Italy’s revolutionary organization, the Carbonari, in its struggle against Austria. He later travelled to fight against the Ottoman Empire in the Greek War of Independence, for which Greeks revere him as a national hero. He died from a fever contracted while in Messolonghi in Greece.

Early Life and Works
Byron was born in a house on Holles Street in London. He was the son of Captain John ‘Mad Jack’ Byron and his second wife, the former Catherine Gordon, heiress of Gight in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Byron’s paternal grandparents were Vice-Admiral The Hon. John ‘Foulweather Jack’ Byron and Sophia Trevanion. Vice Admiral John Byron had circumnavigated the globe, and was the younger brother of the 5th Baron Byron, known as “the Wicked Lord”.

He was christened George Gordon at St Marylebone Parish Church after his maternal grandfather, George Gordon of Gight, a descendant of King James I. Catherine moved back to Scotland shortly afterwards, where she raised her son in Aberdeen. On May 21, 1798, the death of Byron’s great-uncle, the “wicked” Lord Byron, made the 10-year-old the 6th Baron Byron, and the young man then inherited both title and estate, Newstead Abbey, in Nottinghamshire, England. At this point, his mother proudly returnedthe young Baron to England. Byron lived at his estate infrequently, as the Abbey was rented to Lord Grey de Ruthyn, among others, during Byron’s adolescence.

In August 1799, Byron entered the school of William Glennie, an Aberdonian in Dulwich. In 1801 he was sent to Harrow, where he remained until July 1805. He represented Harrow during the very first Eton v Harrow cricket match at Lord’s in 1805. After school he went on to Trinity College, Cambridge.

Byron’s names changed throughout his life. He was christened “George Gordon Byron” in London. “Gordon” was a baptismal name, not a surname, after his maternal grandfather. In order to claim his wife’s estate in Scotland, Byron’s father took the additional surname “Gordon”, becoming “John Byron Gordon”, and he was occasionally styled “John Byron Gordon of Gight”. Byron himself used this surname for a time and was registered at school in Aberdeen as “George Byron Gordon”. At the age of 10, he inherited the English Barony of Byron, becoming “Lord Byron”, and eventually dropped the double surname (though after this point his surname was hidden by his peerage in any event).

When Byron’s mother-in-law died, her will required that he change his surname to “Noel” in order to inherit half her estate, and so he obtained a Royal Warrant allowing him to “take and use the surname of Noel only”. The Royal Warrant also allowed him to “subscribe the said surname of Noel before all titles of honour”, and from that point he signed himself “Noel Byron” (the usual signature of a peer being merely the peerage, in this case simply “Byron”). This was, it was said, so that his signature would become “N.B.” which were the initials of one of his heroes, Napoleon Bonaparte. He was also sometimes referred to as “Lord Noel Byron”, as if “Noel” were part of his title, and likewise his wife was sometimes called “Lady Noel Byron”. Lady Byron eventually succeeded to the Barony of Wentworth, becoming “Lady Wentworth”; her surname before marriage had been “Milbanke”.

While not at school or college, Byron lived with his mother at Burgaage Manor in Southwell, Nottinghamshire, in some antagonism. While there, he cultivated friendships with Elizabeth Pigot and her brother, John, with whom he staged two plays for the entertainment of the community. During this time, with the help of Elizabeth Pigot, who copied many of his rough drafts, he was encouraged to write his first volumes of poetry. Fugitive Pieces was printed by Ridge of Newark, which contained poems written when Byron was only 14. However, it was promptly recalled and burned on the advice of his friend, the Reverend Thomas Beecher, on account of its more amorous verses, particularly the poem To Mary. Pieces on Various Occasions, a “miraculously chaste” revision according to Byron, was published after this.

Hours of Idleness, which collected many of the previous poems, along with more recent compositions, was the culminating book. The savage, anonymous criticism this received (now known to be the work of Henry Peter Brougham) in the Edinburgh Review prompted his first major satire, English Bards and Scotch Reviewers (1809). The work so upset some of these critics they challenged Byron to a duel; over time, in subsequent editions, it became a mark of prestige to be the target of Byron’s pen.

After his return from his travels, the first two cantos of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage were published in 1812, and were received with acclaim. In his own words, “I awoke one morning and found myself famous”. He followed up his success with the poem’s last two cantos, as well as four equally celebrated Oriental Tales, The Giaour, The Bride of Abydos, The Corsair, and Lara, which established a type of protagonist that came to be known as the Byronic hero.

The figure of the Byronic hero pervades much of his work, and Byron himself is considered to epitomize many of the characteristics of this literary figure. Scholars have traced the literary history of the Byronic hero from John Milton, and many authors and artists of the Romantic movement show Byron’s influence during the 19th century and beyond, including Charlotte and Emily Brontë. The Byronic hero presents an idealised, but flawed character whose attributes include: great talent; great passion; a distaste for society and social institutions; a lack of respect for rank and privilege; being thwarted in love by social constraint or death; rebellion; exile; an unsavory secret past; arrogance; overconfidence or lack of foresight; and, ultimately, a self-destructive manner.

Byron’s first loves included Mary Duff and Margaret Parker, his distant cousins, and Mary Chaworth, whom he met while at Harrow. Byron later wrote that his passion for Duff began when he was “not [yet] eight years old,” and was still remembered in 1813. Byron refused to return to Harrow in September 1803 because of his love for Chaworth; his mother wrote, “He has no indisposition that I know of but love, desperate love, the worst of all maladies in my opinion. In short, the boy is distractedly in love with Miss Chaworth.”

Byron finally returned to Harrow in January 1804, to a more settled period which saw the formation of a circle of emotional involvements with other Harrow boys, which he recalled with great vividness: ‘My School friendships were with me passions (for I was always violent).’ The most enduring of those was with the John FitzGibbon, 2nd Earl of Clare — four years Byron’s junior — whom he was to meet unexpectedly many years later in Italy (1821).

While at Trinity, Byron met and formed a close friendship with the younger John Edleston. About his “protégé” he wrote, “He has been my almost constant associate since October, 1805, when I entered Trinity College. His voice first attracted my attention, his countenance fixed it, and his manners attached me to him for ever.” In his memory Byron composed Thyrza, a series of elegies. Byron wore a ring of Edleston’s for the 13 years until he died. In later years he described the affair as ‘a violent, though pure love and passion’. This however has to be read in the context of hardening public attitudes to homosexuality in England, and the severe sanctions (including public hanging) against convicted or even suspected offenders. The liaison, on the other hand, may well have been ‘pure’ out of respect for Edleston’s innocence, in contrast to the (probably) more sexually overt relations experienced at Harrow School.

Also while at Cambridge he formed lifelong friendships with men such as John Cam Hobhouse and Francis Hodgson, a Fellow at King’s College, with whom he corresponded on literary and other matters until the end of his life (including one of the frankest admissions of his earlier feelings for John Edleston, upon Edleston’s death in 1811).

Physical Appearance

Byron’s adult height was about 5 feet 10 inches (1.78 m), his weight fluctuating between 9.5 stone (133 lb; 60 kg) and 14 stone (200 lb; 89 kg). He was renowned for his personal beauty, which he enhanced by wearing curl-papers in his hair at night. He was athletic, being a competent boxer and horse-rider and an excellent swimmer. At Harrow, he played cricket, although he was unskillful.

From birth, Byron suffered from an unknown deformity of his right foot (generally referred to as a “clubfoot” at the time), causing a limp that resulted in lifelong misery for him, aggravated by the suspicion that with proper care it might have been cured. He was extremely self-conscious about this from a young age. However, he refused to wear any type of mechanical device that could improve the limp, although he often wore specially made shoes that would hide the deformed foot.

Byron and other writers such as his friend John Cam Hobhouse left detailed descriptions of his eating habits. At the time he entered Cambridge, he went on a strict diet to control his weight. He also exercised a great deal, and at that time wore a great number of clothes to cause himself to perspire. For most of his life he was a vegetarian, and often lived for days on dry biscuits and white wine. Occasionally he would eat large helpings of meat and desserts, after which he would purge himself. His friend Hobhouse claimed that his weight problem was caused by the pain of his deformed foot which made it difficult for him to exercise.

Later Life and Fame

Byron racked up numerous debts as a young man, due to what his mother termed a “reckless disregard for money”. She lived at Newstead during this time, in fear of her son’s creditors.

He had planned to spend early 1808 cruising with his cousin George Bettesworth, who was captain of the 32-gun frigate HMS Tartar. Bettesworth’s unfortunate death at the Battle of Alvøen in May 1808 made that impossible.

From 1809 to 1811, Byron went on the Grand Tour, then customary for a young nobleman. The Napoleonic Wars forced him to avoid most of Europe, and he instead turned to the Mediterranean. He travelled from England over Spain to Albania and spent time at the court of Ali Pasha of Ioannina, and in Athens. For most of the trip, he had a traveling companion in his friend John Cam Hobhouse.

Byron began his trip in Portugal from where he wrote a letter to his friend Mr. Hodgson in which he describes his mastery of the Portuguese language, consisting mainly of swearing and insults. Byron particularly enjoyed his stay in Sintra that is described in Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage as “glorious Eden”.

While in Athens, Byron met Nicolò Giraud, who became quite close and taught him Italian. Byron sent Giraud to school at a monastery in Malta and bequeathed him a sizable sum of seven thousand pounds sterling. The will, however, was later cancelled. In 1810 in Athens Byron wrote Maid of Athens, ere we part for a 12-year-old girl, Teresa Makri [1798-1875], and reportedly offered £500 for her.

In 1812, Byron embarked on a well-publicized affair with the married Lady Caroline Lamb that shocked the British public. Byron eventually broke off the relationship, but Lamb never entirely recovered, pursuing him even after he tired of her. She was emotionally disturbed, and lost so much weight that Byron cruelly commented to her mother-in-law, his friend Lady Melbourne, that he was “haunted by a skeleton”. She began to call on him at home, sometimes dressed in disguise as a page boy, at a time when such an act could ruin both of them socially. One day, during such a visit, she wrote on a book at his desk, “Remember me!” As a retort, Byron wrote a poem entitled Remember Thee! Remember Thee! which concludes with the line “Thou false to him, thou fiend to me”.

Byron eventually took his seat in the House of Lords in 1811, shortly after his return from the Levant, and made his maiden speech there on 27 February 1812. A strong advocate of social reform, he received particular praise as one of the few Parliamentary defenders of the Luddites: specifically, he was against a death penalty for Luddite “frame breakers” in Nottinghamshire, who destroyed textile machines that were putting them out of work. His first speech before the Lords was loaded with sarcastic references to the “benefits” of automation, which he saw as producing inferior material as well as putting people out of work. He said later that he “spoke very violent sentences with a sort of modest impudence”, and thought he came across as “a bit theatrical”. In another Parliamentary speech he expressed opposition to the established religion because it was unfair to people of other faiths.These experiences inspired Byron to write political poems such as Song for the Luddites (1816) and The Landlords’ Interest, Canto XIV of The Age of Bronze. Examples of poems in which he attacked his political opponents include Wellington: The Best of the Cut-Throats (1819); and The Intellectual Eunuch Castlereagh (1818).

As a child, Byron had seen little of his half-sister Augusta Leigh; in adulthood, he formed a close relationship with her that has been interpreted by some as incestuous and by others as innocent. Eventually Byron began to court Lady Caroline’s cousin Anne Isabella Milbanke (“Annabella”), who refused his first proposal of marriage but later accepted him. They married at Seaham Hall, County Durham, on 2 January 1815. The marriage proved unhappy. He treated her poorly and showed disappointment at the birth of a daughter (Augusta Ada) rather than a son. On 16 January 1816, Lady Byron left him, taking Ada with her. On 21 April, Byron signed the Deed of Separation. Rumours of marital violence, adultery with actresses, incest with Augusta Leigh, and sodomy were circulated, assisted by a jealous Lady Caroline. In a letter, Augusta quoted him as saying: “Even to have such a thing said is utter destruction and ruin to a man from which he can never recover.”

Self-Imposed Exile and Death
After this break-up of his domestic life, Byron again left England, but it was forever, as it turned out. He passed through Belgium and continued up the Rhine River. In the summer of 1816 he settled at the Villa Diodati by Lake Geneva, Switzerland, with his personal physician, the young, brilliant, and handsome John William Polidori. There Byron befriended the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Shelley’s future wife Mary Godwin. He was also joined by Mary’s stepsister, Claire Clairmont, with whom he had had an affair in London. Byron initially refused to have anything to do with Claire, and would only agree to remain in her presence with the Shelleys, who eventually persuaded Byron to accept and provide for Allegra, the child she bore him in January 1817

Kept indoors at the Villa Diodati by the “incessant rain” of “that wet, ungenial summer” over three days in June, the five turned to reading fantastical stories, including Fantasmagoriana, and then devising their own tales. Mary Shelley produced what would become Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, and Polidori was inspired by a fragmentary story of Byron’s to produce The Vampyre, the progenitor of the romantic vampire genre. Byron’s story fragment was published as a postscript to Mazeppa; he also wrote the third canto of Childe Harold. Byron wintered in Venice, pausing his travels when he fell in love with Marianna Segati, in whose Venice house he was lodging, and who was soon replaced by 22-year-old Margarita Cogni; both women were married. Cogni could not read or write, and she left her husband to move into Byron’s Venice house. Their fighting often caused Byron to spend the night in his gondola; when he asked her to leave the house, she threw herself into the Venetian canal.

In 1817, he journeyed to Rome. On returning to Venice, he wrote the fourth canto of Childe Harold. About the same time, he sold Newstead and published Manfred, Cain and The Deformed Transformed. The first five cantos of Don Juan were written between 1818 and 1820, during which period he made the acquaintance of the young Countess Guiccioli, who found her first love in Byron, who in turn asked her to elope with him. It was about this time that he received a visit from Thomas Moore, to whom he confided his autobiography or “life and adventures”, which Moore, Hobhouse, and Byron’s publisher, John Murray, burned in 1824, a month after Byron’s death.

From 1821 to 1822, he finished Cantos 6–12 of Don Juan at Pisa, and in the same year he joined with Leigh Hunt and Percy Bysshe Shelley in starting a short-lived newspaper, The Liberal, in the first number of which appeared The Vision of Judgment. His last Italian home was Genoa, where he was still accompanied by the Countess Guiccioli, and where he met Charles John Gardiner, 1st Earl of Blessington, and Marguerite, Countess of Blessington and provided the material for her work Conversations with Lord Byron, an important text in the reception of Byron in the period immediately after his death.

Byron lived in Genoa until 1823, when, growing bored with his life there he accepted overtures for his support from representatives of the movement for Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire. On 16 July, Byron left Genoa on the Hercules, arriving at Kefalonia in the Ionian Islands on 4 August. He spent £4000 of his own money to refit the Greek fleet, then sailed for Messolonghi in western Greece, arriving on 29 December to join Alexandros Mavrokordatos, a Greek politician with military power. During this time, Byron pursued his Greek page, Lukas Chalandritsanos, but the affections went unrequited. When the famous Danish sculptor Thorvaldsen heard about Byron’s heroics in Greece, he voluntarily resculpted his earlier bust of Byron in Greek marble.

Mavrokordatos and Byron planned to attack the Turkish-held fortress of Lepanto, at the mouth of the Gulf of Corinth. Byron employed a fire-master to prepare artillery and took part of the rebel army under his own command, despite his lack of military experience. Before the expedition could sail, on 15 February 1824, he fell ill; the usual remedy of bleeding weakened him further. He made a partial recovery, but in early April he caught a violent cold which therapeutic bleeding, insisted on by his doctors, aggravated. It is suspected this treatment, carried out with unsterilized medical instrumentation, may have caused him to develop sepsis. He developed a violent fever, and died on 19 April. It has been said that had Byron lived, he might have been declared King of Greece.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson would later recall the shocked reaction in Britain when word was received of Byron’s death. The Greeks mourned Lord Byron deeply, and he became a hero. The national poet of Greece, Dionysios Solomos, wrote a poem about the unexpected loss, named To the Death of Lord Byron. (“Vyron”), the Greek form of “Byron”, continues in popularity as a masculine name in Greece, and a suburb of Athens is called Vyronas in his honour.

Byron’s body was embalmed, but the Greeks wanted some part of their hero to stay with them. According to some sources, his heart remained at Messolonghi. According to others, it was his lungs, which were placed in an urn that was later lost when the city was sacked. His other remains were sent to England for burial in Westminster Abbey, but the Abbey refused for reason of “questionable morality”. Huge crowds viewed his body as he lay in state for two days in London. He is buried at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Hucknall, Nottingham.

At her request, Ada Lovelace, the child he never knew, was buried next to him. In later years, the Abbey allowed a duplicate of a marble slab given by the King of Greece, which is laid directly above Byron’s grave. Byron’s friends raised the sum of 1,000 pounds to commission a statue of the writer; Thorvaldsen offered to sculpt it for that amount. However, for ten years after the statue was completed in 1834, most British institutions turned it down, and it remained in storage. The statue was refused by the British Museum, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and the National Gallery. Trinity College, Cambridge, finally placed the statue of Byron in its library.

In 1969, 145 years after Byron’s death, a memorial to him was finally placed in Westminster Abbey. The memorial had been lobbied for since 1907; The New York Times wrote, “People are beginning to ask whether this ignoring of Byron is not a thing of which England should be ashamed … a bust or a tablet might be put in the Poets’ Corner and England be relieved of ingratitude toward one of her really great sons.”

Upon his death, the barony passed to Byron’s cousin George Anson Byron, a career military officer and his polar opposite in temperament and lifestyle.


From Wikipedia

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A Letter To Lord Byron

A Letter To Lord Byron by W. H. Auden

“…
There is one other author in my pack
For some time I debated which to write to.
Which would least likely send my letter back?
But I decided I’d give a fright to
Jane Austen if I wrote when I’d no right to,
And share in her contempt the dreadful fates
Of Crawford, Musgrove, and of Mr. Yates.

Then she’s a novelist. I don’t know whether
You will agree, but novel writing is
A higher art than poetry altogether
In my opinion, and success implies
Both finer character and faculties
Perhaps that’s why real novels are as rare
As winter thunder or a polar bear.


I must remember, though, that you were dead
Before the four great Russians lived, who brought
The art of novel writing to a head;
The help of Boots had not been sought.
But now the art for which Jane Austen fought,
Under the right persuasion bravely warms
And is the most prodigious of the forms.

She was not an unshockable blue-stocking;
If shades remain the characters they were,
No doubt she still considers you as shocking.
But tell Jane Austen, that is if you dare,
How much her novels are beloved down here.
She wrote them for posterity, she said;
‘Twas rash, but by posterity she’s read.

You could not shock her more than she shocks me;
Beside her Joyce seems innocent as grass.
It makes me most uncomfortable to see
An English spinster of the middle-class
Describe the amorous effects of ‘brass’,
Reveal so frankly and with such sobriety
The economic basis of society…”

This is an excerpt from a much longer poem by W. H. Auden. The full text can be found online. Letter to Lord Byron was first published in Letters from Iceland (1937), Faber and Faber, and Random House, New York. The revised version presented here is taken from Longer Contemporary Poems (1966), Penguin Books.


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Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron: A Review

Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron

Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron: Being a Jane Austen Mystery
By Stephanie Barron

A Review by Laurel Ann Nattress
One thinks of Jane Austen as a retiring spinster who writes secretly, prefers her privacy and enjoys quiet walks in the Hampshire countryside. Instead, she has applied her intuitive skills of astute observation and deductive reasoning to solve crime in Stephanie Barron’s Austen inspired mystery series. It is an ingenious paradox that would make even Gilbert and Sullivan green with envy. The perfect pairing of the unlikely with the obvious that happens occasionally in great fiction by authors clever enough to pick up on the connection and run with it.

Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron marks Stephanie Barron’s tenth novel in the best-selling Jane Austen Mystery series. For fourteen years, and to much acclaim, she has channeled our Jane beyond her quiet family circle into sleuthing adventures with lords, ladies and murderers. Cleverly crafted, this historical detective series incorporates actual events from Jane Austen’s life with historical facts from her time all woven together into mysteries that of course, only our brilliant Jane can solve.

It is the spring of 1813. Jane is home at Chawton Cottage “pondering the thorny question of Henry Crawford” in her new novel Mansfield Park and glowing in the recent favorable reception of Pride and Prejudice. Bad news calls her to London where her brother Henry’s wife Eliza, the Comtesse de Feuillde, is gravely ill. With her passing, Jane and Henry decide to seek the solace and restorative powers of the seaside selecting Brighton, “the most breathtaking and outrageous resort of the present age” for a holiday excursion.

At a coaching Inn along the way they rescue Catherine Twining, a young society Miss found bound and gagged in the coach of George Gordon, the 6th Baron of Byron, aka Lord Byron, the notorious mad, bad and dangerous to know poet. Miffed by their thwart of her abduction, Byron regretfully surrenders his prize to Jane and Henry who return her to her father, General Twining, in Brighton. He is furious and quick to fault his fifteen year-old daughter. Jane and Henry are appalled at his temper and concerned for her welfare.

Settled into a suite of rooms at the luxurious Castle Inn, Jane and Henry enjoy walks on the Promenade, fine dining on lobster patties and champagne at Donaldson’s and a trip to the local circulating library where Jane is curious to see how often the “Fashionables of Brighton” solicit the privilege of reading Pride and Prejudice! Even though Jane loathes the dissipated Prince Regent, she and Henry attend a party at his opulent home the Marine Pavilion. In the crush of the soirée, Jane again rescues Miss Twining from another seducer.

Later at an Assembly dance attended by much of Brighton’s bon ton, Lord Byron reappears stalked by his spurned amour, “the mad as Bedlam” Lady Caroline Lamb. Even though the room is filled with beautiful ladies he only has eyes for Miss Twining and aggressively pursues her. The next morning, Jane and Henry are shocked to learn that the lifeless body of a young lady found in Byron’s bed was their naïve new friend Miss Catherine Twining! The facts against Byron are very incriminating. Curiously, the intemperate poet is nowhere to be found and all of Brighton ready to condemn him.

 

‘Henry grasped my arm and turned me firmly back along the way we had come. “Jane,” he said bracingly, “we require a revival of your formidable spirit – one I have not seen in nearly two years. You must take up the role of Divine Fury. You must penetrate this killer’s motives, and expose him to the world.”’ [page 119]

And so the game is afoot and the investigation begins…

It is great to have Jane Austen, Detective back on the case and in peak form. Fans of the series will be captivated by her skill at unraveling the crime, and the unindoctrinated totally charmed. The mystery was detailed and quite intriguing, swimming in red herrings and gossipy supposition. Pairing the nefarious Lord Byron with our impertinent parson’s daughter was just so delightfully “sick and wicked.” Their scenes together were the most memorable and I was pleased to see our outspoken Jane give as good as she got, and then some. Readers who enjoy a good parody and want to take this couple one step further should investigate their vampire version in Jane Bites Back.

Barron continues to prove that she is an Incomparable, the most accomplished writer in the genre today rivaling Georgette Heyer in Regency history and Austen in her own backyard. Happily readers will not have to wait another four years for the next novel in the series. Bantam is publishing Jane and the Canterbury Tale next year with a firm commitment of more to follow. Huzzah!

Publisher:Bantam Books (2010)
Trade paperback
(352) pages
ISBN:
978-0553386707


 

A life-long acolyte of Jane Austen, Laurel Ann Nattress is the editor of Austenprose.com and the forthcoming short story anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It to be released by Ballantine Books in October, 2011. Classically trained as a landscape designer at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, she has also worked in marketing for a Grand Opera company and at present delights in introducing neophytes to the charms of Miss Austen’s prose as a bookseller at Barnes & Noble. An expatriate of southern California, Laurel Ann lives near Seattle, Washington where it rains a lot.

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