George Gordon Byron (1788-1824)
Byron, George Gordon, 6th Lord Byron.
Poet, was born in London. After the departure of his flourished his mother went to Aberdeen, where she lived on a small salvage from her fortune. She was a capricious woman of violent temper, with no fitness for guiding her volcanic son, and altogether the circumstances of his early life explain, if they do not excuse, the spirit of revolt which was his lifelong characteristic. In 1801 he was sent to Harrow, where he remained until 1805, when he proceeded to Trinity Coll., Cambridge, where he read much history and fiction, lived extravagantly, and got into debt.
Some early verses which he had published in 1806 were suppressed. They were followed in 1807 by Hours of Idleness, which was savagely attacked in the Edinburgh Review. In reply he sent forth English Bards and Scotch Reviewers (1809), which created considerable stir and shortly went through 5 editions.
Meanwhile, he had settled at Newstead Abbey, the family seat, where with some of his cronies he was believed to have indulged in wild and extravagant orgies, the accounts of which, however, were probably greatly exaggerated. In 1809 he left England, and passing through Spain, went to Greece. During his absence, which extended over two years, he wrote the first two cantos of Childe Harold, which were published after his return in 1812, and were received with acclamation.
About 1815 he married Anne Isabella Milbanke, who had refused him in the previous year, a union which, owing to the total incompatibility of the parties, and serious provocations on the part of Byron, proved unhappy, and was in 1816 dissolved by a formal deed of separation. After this break-up of his domestic life, followed as it was by the severe censure of society, and by pressure on the part of his creditors, which led to the sale of his library, Byron again left England, as it turned out, for ever, and, passing through Belgium and up the Rhine, went to Geneva, afterwards travelling with Shelley through Switzerland, when he wrote the third canto of Childe Harold.
The first five cantos of Don Juan were written between 1818 and 1820, during which period he made the acquaintance of the Countess Guiccioli, whom he persuaded to leave her husband.
In 1821-22 he finished Don Juan at Pisa. His last Italian home was Genoa, where he was still accompanied by the Countess, and where he lived until 1823, when he offered himself as an ally to the Greek insurgents. In July of that year he started for Greece, spent some months in Cephalonia waiting for the Greeks to form some definite plans. In January, 1824, he landed at Missolonghi, but caught a malarial fever, of which he died on April 19, 1824.
From Biographical Dictionary of English Literature - the Everyman Edition of 1910
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