"Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know"
Lady Caroline Lamb, Speaking of Lord Byron

But words are things, and a small drop of ink,
Falling like dew, upon a thought, produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think;
’T is strange, the shortest letter which man uses
Instead of speech, may form a lasting link
Of ages; to what straits old Time reduces
Frail man, when paper -- even a rag like this,
Survives himself, his tomb, and all that’s his.
"Don Juan," Lord Byron


Who was Lord Byron?
Despite a congential deformity (a clubfoot) or perhaps because of it, George Gordon, Lord Byron, was a man among men -- a poet, an athlete, a political activist, a lover, a keeper of a pet bear. Was one day in his life, as some have said, equal to the year in the lives of lesser men, or ought we instead take the man as he was, flaws and all, as passionate about his writing as he was about his eternally scandalous love life?

In these pages, you will

  • meet Byron the man, from his humble beginnings to sudden elevation to the peerage at age ten to seemingly overnight worldwide celebrity;

  • explore the archetype of the "Byronic hero" and draw connections to other "bad boys" who have followed in his footsteps;

  • experience the elegiac beauty of Byron’s ode to the ocean in Canto IV of "Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage";

  • read about the chance encounter that led to Byron’s arguably most often-read poem, "She Walks in Beauty";

  • share the perspective of the wryly sardonic yet also helplessly sympathetic Mark Steel as he recreates for us the major events of Byron’s life as well as the impact of Byron’s work, a legacy which to this day continues.

It’s "strange," Byron writes, how "the shortest letter...may form a lasting link," how "old Time reduces frail man, when paper...survives himself, his tomb, and all that’s his." If you love this most "romantic" of all the Romantic poets, fall in love again; if you never quite "got" Byron, perhaps here, you will.