Lord Byron was a famous British poet better known as the leading figure of Romanticism. His best known poems include, “She Walks in Beauty”, “When We Two Parted”, “So, We'll Go No More A Roving”, “Childe Harold's Pilgrimage” and “Don Juan”. Byron spent a celebrated aristocratic life, which included huge debts, a long list of lovers and self-imposed exile. He fought against the Ottoman Empire in the Greek War of Independence, which made him a Greek national hero. He may be credited with the initiation of Armenology and its propagation. His heavy lyricism and ideological courage influenced the writing of many Armenian poets such as Ghevond Alishan, Smbat Shahaziz, Hovhannes Tumanyan and Ruben Vorberian. He also was the member of House of Lords for a brief time and was the strong advocator of social reform. He was known for his violent sarcastic parliamentary speeches. Few of his politically inspired poems include “Song for the Luddites” (1816) and “The Landlords' Interest”, “Canto XIV of The Age of Bronze”.
Lord Byron Childhood & Early Life
Lord Byron was born on January 22, 1788 in Dover, Kent, Great Britain. His father was Captain John 'Mad Jack' Byron and mother was Catherine Gordon, heiress of Gight in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. After the death of her husband, Catherine took her son back to Scotland, where she raised him in Aberdeenshire. The death of his great-uncle, the “wicked” Lord Byron inherited him with both title and estate, Newstead Abbey, in Nottinghamshire. In August 1799, he was enrolled in the school of William Glennie, an Aberdonian in Dulwich. Byron received his formal education at Aberdeen Grammar School. In the year 1801, he was sent to Harrow where he stayed for the next four years. After completing his school, he went to Trinity College, Cambridge. When not attending college, Byron used to live with his mother at Burgage Manor in Southwell, Nottinghamshire. During this time he was befriended with Elizabeth Pigot and her brother, John. Elizabeth encouraged Byron to write poetries and at the young age of 14, he produced his first poetry, “Fugitive Pieces”. But the poetry was promptly recalled and destroyed on advice of his friend, the Reverend Thomas Beecher due to its amorous verses. On March 13, 1809, Byron took his seat in the House of Lords but very soon left London on June 11, 1809 for the continental trip. On his return from travels, he asked his relative, R.C. Dallas to publish his poem, “Childe Harold's Pilgrimage”. The two sections of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage were published in 1812 and became success. This success was followed by equally popular “Oriental Tales”, “The Giaour”, “The Bride of Abydos”, “The Corsair”, and “Lara, A Tale”. Following the accusation of sodomy and incest and to prevent the exclusion of the British society, Byron left England in 1816 and never returned to the country again.
After leaving England in 1816, Lord Byron visited Saint Lazarus Island in Venice. In Venice, he got acquainted with Armenian culture with the assistance of the abbots of the Mekhitarist Order. He also learned Armenian language with the help of Father H. Avgerian. His important works in this period include English Grammar and Armenian (1817) and Armenian Grammar and English (1819), wherein in latter, he included classical and modern Armenian quotations. He also helped in the compilation of the English Armenian dictionary (Barraran angghieren yev hayeren) published in 1821. He also did some important translation works like Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, two chapters of Movses Khorenatsi's History of Armenia and sections of Nerses of Lambron's Orations. He can also be considered as the father of Armenology and may be credited for its propagation. From the time period 1821 to 1822, during his stay at Pisa, Byron finished Cantos 6–12 of his famous work, “Don Juan”. In the same year, he along with Leigh Hunt and Percy Bysshe Shelley started a newspaper, “The Liberal” but unfortunately it didn’t run for long.
Genoa was his last Italian home where he was companied by the Countess Guiccioli. In Genoa, Byron met Charles John Gardiner, 1st Earl of Blessington, and Marguerite, Countess of Blessington. Their brief acquaintance helped Marguerite to write her important work, “Conversations with Lord Byron”. Byron stayed in Genoa till 1823 after which, he went to support the movement for Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire. Sailing off from Genoa on July 16, he reached Messolonghi in western Greece on December 29. At Messolonghi, he joined the powerful Greek politician, Alexandros Mavrokordatos. The two planned to attack the Turkish-held fortress of Lepanto, at the mouth of the Gulf of Corinth. Although Byron had not much military experience, he employed a fire-master to prepare artillery and decided to command the rebel army under himself. But before he could actually sail off to the war, he fell ill on February 15, 1824.
Lord Byron had earned himself a reputation of being extravagant, melancholic, courageous, unconventional, eccentric, flamboyant and controversial. He was known for his independent nature and extremes of temper. His personal life was full of affairs and scandals. His first love includes his distant cousins Mary Duff and Margaret Parker. He was also attracted to Mary Chaworth, whom he met, while at Harrow. His affair with the married Lady Caroline Lamb shocked the British public. Lord Byron was also accused of incest, due to a possible love affair with his half-sister, Augusta Leigh. It was even assumed that Leigh’s third daughter, Elizabeth Medora Leigh was the child of Lord Byron. Eventually, Byron courted Lady Caroline's cousin Anne Isabella Milbanke and married her on January 2, 1815 at Seaham Hall, County Durham. The couple had a daughter, Ada Lovelace born in 1815. The married life of Lord Byron was not happy and following the rumors of marital violence, adultery, incest and sodomy, he left his wife and England in 1816. His other affairs include Claire Clairmont, Marianna Segati, Margarita Cogni and the young Countess Guiccioli. With Claire Clairmont he had an illegitimate child in 1817, Clara Allegra Byron.
After falling ill on February 15, 1824, Lord Byron was given the remedy of bloodletting which weakened him further. Before he could make any considerable recovery, he caught a violent cold. It was believed that the unsterilised medical instrumentation developed sepsis in him. Following a violet fever, Byron breathed his last on April 19, 1824.