Lord Byron

Portrait of Lord Byron

Lord Byron was an English poet of the second Romantic Generation and is regarded by many as one of the greatest English Poets of all time. He was born in London on 22nd January 1788 and died in Missolonghi, Greece on 19th April 1824 aged 36.

Major Works

“English Bards and Scotch Reviewers” (1809) 
Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage” (Cantos 1-2). (1812) 
“The Corsair”. (1814) 
“Don Juan” (Part 1-2) (1819) 
Sardanapolus”. (1821) 
“Werner”. (1823) 

Biography Timeline

Lord Byron was born as George Gordon on 22nd January 1788 in Holles Street, London, England. He was the son of Captain John “Mad Jack” Byron and his second wife, Catherine Gordon, a Scottish heiress. He was educated at Aberdeen Grammar School, Harrow School and Trinity College, Cambridge.

1788: Byron and his mother leave “Mad Jack” Byron shortly after the birth and move to live in lodgings in Queen Street, Aberdeen.

1791: His father dies on the 2nd August in France and the family’s income is now much reduced and Byron and his mother move to a smaller house in Aberdeen.

1792: He was sexually assaulted aged five by a family servant, May Gray, although this wasn’t discovered until he was ten when he told the family solicitor and Gray was instantly dismissed.

1798: He becomes the 6th Baron Byron of Rochdale on the death of his Great Uncle and he visits Newstead Abbey in Nottinghamshire for the first time.

1799: He moves to London in July with John Hanson, his business agent and in September and attends a local school.

1801: He goes to Harrow School.

1805: He plays in the first Eton versus Harrow cricket Match at Lords Cricket Ground in London on the 2nd August. He goes up to Trinity College, Cambridge on the 24th October.

1807: In January his second volume of poetry “Poems on Various Occasions” is privately printed. He begins a lasting friendship with John Cam Hobhouse and Scrope Davies back at Cambridge but leaves for good in December.

1808: “Hours of Idleness” is ridiculed in the Edinburgh Review. 

1809: He takes up his seat in the House of Lords on 13th March but leaves England on the 2nd July with Hobhouse to travel in Europe and on to Greece. He visits Missolonghi and Athens in December.

1811: He returns to England via Malta and lands on 14th July. 

1812: He makes his maiden speech in the House of Lords on 27th February and opposes the Framework Bill. He becomes immediately famous on the publication of the first parts of “Childe Harold”. He has affairs with Lady Caroline Lamb, a novelist who was married to Lord Melbourne (who was later to become Prime Minister) and Lady Oxford who was known as a patron of the Reform Movement (the left wing of the Whig Party). In October Annabella Milbanke declines his proposal of marriage.

1813: On 1st June he makes his last speech in the Lords about Major Cartwright’s Petition. He has an affair with his half-sister Augusta Leigh who arrives in London in June. He begins corresponding with Annabella Milbanke again in August.

1814: “The Corsair” sells 10,000 copies on its first day of publication. On 15th September Annabella Milbanke finally accepts his marriage proposal and on the 29th he leaves for Seaham in County Durham, where she lives, but stays with Augusta Leigh on the way.

1815: He marries Annabella Milbanke on 2nd January, at Seaham Hall on the County Durham coast. On February 10th Byron’s complicated financial affairs require him to return to London but Annabella refuses to be left behind. Once back in London they reside in the lodgings Hobhouse has found for them owned by the Duchess of Devonshire. On 7th April Byron meets Walter Scott. In September Byron writes to Samuel Taylor Coleridge asking him to write a play for Drury Lane theatre. On 10th December Annabella gives birth to Augusta Ada.

1816: After a winter of erratic behaviour Lady Byron believes her husband to now be mad and has Dr Baillie attend him without his knowledge. The Doctor says that a time apart will improve his condition and she leaves to live with her parents at Kirkby Mallory in Leicestershire on 15th January. On 23rd April Byron leaves for Dover with Doctor Polidori. On the 20th May Byron’s party reach Basel in Switzerland and he finally take up residence in the Villa Diodatti on the shores of Lake Geneva on 6th June. Byron has an affair with Claire Clairmont, the step sister of Mary Shelley, who becomes pregnant. On the 14th or 15th of June, confined to the house due to bad weather Byron, Polidori, Claire and the Shelleys read Coleridge’s “Christabel” and agree to write ghost stories. (From which comes Mary’s famous “Frankenstein”). Byron and Hobhouse then tour northern Italy and the Alps visiting Milan. They finally reach Venice on the 10th. 

1817: Birth of Allegra, his daughter by Claire Clairmont on 12th of January. In August he begins a romance with Margarita Cogni while still seeing Marianna. On 13th of November Hobhouse and Byron return to Venice.

1818: On 25th January he meets the recently married Countess Teresa Guiccioli. On the 9th March Claire Clairmont has her daughter baptised at St Martin’s in the Fields, London as Clara Allegra Byron. 

1819: In April he begins an affair in Venice with Countess Teresa Guiccioli. On the 10th June Byron arrives in Ravenna where the Countess lives and visits her every day. 

1820: He moves to live in Ravenna, Italy in the upstairs rooms of Count Guiccioli. Countess Guiccioli is separated from her husband after he suspects her of infidelity. She goes to live with her father and brothers and the Pope grants formal separation on the 6th July. 

1821: On the 6th August Percy Shelley arrives in Ravenna and encourages Byron to move to Pisa where he is now staying. On the 14th November at the invitation of Shelley Lord Mavrcordatos sees Byron and awakens his interest in Greek independence from the Turks.

1822: On the 14th January Edward Trelawny arrives in Pisa and convinces Byron to have a boat built to sail in the Bay of Spezia. Byron comes into an extra inheritance after the death of Lady Noel. Claire Clairmont arrives in Pisa and tries to free Allegra from the convent but later Allegra dies of typhoid fever on the 20th April. In October John Hunt publishes The Liberal with Byron’s “Vision of Judgement” prominently featured. He goes on to publish six parts of “Don Juan” and other works but is attacked for libel against the King.

1823: “Heaven and Earth” appears in the second issue of “The Liberal”. In April Edward Blaquiere, a representative of the London Greek Committee and Andreas Luriottis from the Greek Government arrive to talk to Byron about the war in Greece and Byron is elected a member of the London Greek Committee. In June he orders helmets and uniforms for himself and others for an expedition to Greece. Byron finally sails to Greece with Trelawny and a party of friends and servants on 15th July. The ship “The Hercules”  finally arrives in Argostoli harbour, Cephalonia on the 3rd August. On the 5th August Byron meets with Colonel Napier the British Governor of the Island and gives money to aid the Greeks. In November short of money the Greek Government ask Byron for a loan to send a fleet to the mainland.

1824: On 2nd January Byron meets up with other escort boats at Dragomestre. in Missolonghi on 4th January at noon and at 11pm Byron himself arrives in the harbour to a 21 gun salute. On 13th January he takes command of the Suliote corps and has to pay for the food and wages of 600 men. On 25th January Byron is commissioned to command the 3,000 troop expedition to Lepanto but finds the Greeks have no money to pay for it and he ends up footing the bill. On 15th February Byron is taken ill with symptoms similar to an epileptic seizure. Byron also hears that Don Juan has been a success back in England. On 25th March Byron again has to bail out the Greek government financially again and on the 30th he is awarded citizenship of the town of Missolonghi. On the 5th April Byron helps end the siege of Missolonghi. On 9th April he goes out riding in the evening in the rain and begins to suffer fever and rheumatic pains. By the 14th he is delirious. Byron dies on 19th April after slipping into a coma on the previous evening.he is heard to say “I want to sleep now” and then falls into a coma finally dying at 6pm the following evening.

Further Information

For more information see Britain Unlimited’s Lord Byron page here.

Complete list of works by Byron.