On January 22nd, George Gordon Byron born in London, son of Captain
John “Mad Jack” Byron (nephew of the 5th Baron of
Rochdale) and his second wife, Catherine Gordon of Gicht.
In 1789 Captain
Byron deserts Catherine, and she moves with her son to Aberdeen.
1791 Captain Byron dies in
to 1798, Byron is educated at Aberdeen Grammar School.
1794 Byron becomes heir to
the title of Rochdale upon the death of his cousin at the siege
the sixth Lord Byron when his great-uncle dies.
He inherits Newstead Abbey,
to London and attends Dr Glennie’s school, Dulwich.
1801 Enters Harrow School,
where he makes many passionate male friendships.
Byron rents Burgage Manor, Southwell, Nottinghamshire.
Byron falls in love with
enters Trinity College, Cambridge, but spends most of the next
three years at Southwell, where he organises theatricals and publishes
his juvenile poetry: Fugitive Pieces (printed and withdrawn in
November 1806) and Poems on Various Occasions (published January
1807 Hours of Idleness published
in Newark, Nottinghamshire.
1808 In February, Hours of
Idleness is abused in the Edinburgh Review; its successor, Poems
Original and Translated, is published.
in London, Brighton, and at Newstead.
1809 On March 13th Byron
takes his seat, as a Whig, in the House of Lords.
Also in March,
the first edition of English Bards and Scotch Reviewers is published.
With his friend John Cam
Hobhouse, Byron leaves England on July 2nd for a tour of the Mediterranean.
Portugal (July 7th-20th), Spain (July 20th-August 3rd), Gibraltar
(August 4th-16th), Sardinia, and Malta (August 31st).
On Malta, English naval and
diplomatic intelligence persuades them to visit Ali Pacha at Tepellene
in Greece (at Patras) on September 26th, and visit Ali’s
headquarters, October 19th-23rd.
On about October 31st, Byron
begins Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage I.
15th they pass through Delphi, and on Christmas Day arrive at
1810 Byron is in Athens with
Hobhouse until March 5th, when they travel to Smyrna [Izmir].
on March 13th.
Byron finishes Childe Harold
II, March 28th.
11th, Byron leaves for Constantinople [Istanbul].
Byron swims Hellespont, May
May 13th–July 14th.
Arrives back in Athens (without
Hobhouse), July 18th.
On July 21st,
goes to the Morea.
In August, is back in Athens,
staying at the Capuchin monastery. Very friendly with the boy
to the Morea again.
In October, returns to Athens.
again in December.
1811 In Athens from January
1st to June 2nd.
from Horace and starts The Curse of Minerva.
Returns to England on July
1st his mother dies.
From October 28th, lives
at 8 St James’s Street, London.
Rogers and Thomas Moore.
John Murray agrees to publish
Childe Harold I and II.
Byron falls in love with the Welsh servant girl, Susan Vaughan,
who betrays him with Robert Rushton, his page.
1812 On February 27th Byron
delivers his first speech in the House of Lords, opposing the
death-penalty for industrial sabotage by starving Nottinghamshire
workers – the Frame Breakers Bill.
two more speeches, then ceases all parliamentary activity.
Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage
I & II is published on March 10th, and he is famous instantly.
Has his brief
– and most notorious – love affair, with Lady Caroline
He tries to sell Newstead
Abbey on August 14th, but it fails to reach its reserve price
at the auction, and for the next six years his finances remain
He is commissioned
by the Drury Lane Committee to write an Address for the opening
of their new theatre.
He also writes Waltz, which
is published anonymously.
At the end
of the year, is deep into an affair with Elizabeth, Countess of
1813 From March to December,
The Giaour is published in editions of increasing length.
At the year’s
end Byron writes The Bride of Abydos and starts The Corsair.
He is much in Whig society;
he meets Madame de Staël.
with his half-sister Augusta starts, he flirts with Frances Wedderburn
Webster, and begins marriage overtures to Annabella Milbanke.
The Bride of Abydos is published
on December 2nd.
1814 On February
1st The Corsair sells 10,000 copies on the first day of its publication.
Byron takes an apartment
in the Albany.
Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte.
Lara is published on August
he starts Hebrew Melodies, in collaboration with Isaac Nathan.
In December he travels with
Hobhouse to Seaham, County Durham, to marry Annabella Milbanke.
Annabella on January 2nd.
They honeymoon at Halnaby
in Yorkshire: the marriage at once shows signs of strain.
At the end
of March they move in to 13, Piccadilly Terrace.
Hebrew Melodies is published
to Coleridge, meets Scott, and joins the Sub-Committee of the
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.
Annabella becomes pregnant.
Augusta Ada, is born on December 10th.
At the end of the year Byron
writes Parisina and The Siege of Corinth.
at home becomes more and more erratic and boorish.
1816 On January 15th, acting
on a suggestion from Byron, Annabella leaves him, taking their
child, and they never meet again.
two poems about the separation, Fare Thee Well! and A Sketch from
For the rest of his life
his complaint is that he doesn’t know why she left him.
After a separation
agreement has been signed, Byron leaves England on April 25th.
He never returns.
by Dr Polidori, he travels via Brussels and the field of Waterloo
down the Rhine valley to Geneva in Switzerland.
There he meets Shelley, Mary
Godwin, and Claire Claremont, who is already pregnant by him.
Childe Harold III, The Prisoner of Chillon, Darkness, and The
He begins Manfred.
meets Madame de Staël.
On August 26th, Hobhouse
arrives in Geneva with Scrope Davies.
later, Shelley, Mary Godwin, and Claire Claremont leave.
In September Byron and Hobhouse
go on an Alpine tour, then, on October 5th, they cross the Alps
and enter Italy.
in Milan from October 12th to November 3rd, and by November 10th
they are in Venice.
On November 18th 1816, Childe
Harold III is published.
1817 In England,
Claire Claremont gives birth to Allegra, January 12th.
Byron finishes Manfred, after
study at the Armenian monastery of San Lazzaro.
with Marianna Segati has begun.
From April 17th to May 28th,
he travels via Florence to Rome, where he revises Manfred’s
third act under advice from William Gifford.
Childe Harold IV.
In June he leases the Villa
Foscarini on the Brenta.
On June 16th,
Manfred is published.
In October, as he is finishing
Childe Harold IV, he reads Whistlecraft, a mock-epic in ottava
rima by John Hookham Frere: and writes Beppo in two nights by
way of imitation.
10th, he hears that Newstead Abbey has at last been sold; his
years of financial insecurity are at last over.
1818 Beppo is published anonymously
on February 28th, and Childe Harold IV (with Byron’s name),
on April 28th.
liaison with Marianna Segati ends, and he embarks upon a period
of total debauchery, encouraged by the Venetian way of life.
He leases the Palazzo Mocenigo
on the Grand Canal.
In June he
wins a swimming race the length of the Grand Canal.
Margarita Cogni becomes his
mistress and housekeeper, cutting the household expenses by half.
Mazeppa, and begins Don Juan I, which he finishes on September
He writes his Memoirs.
11th, John Hanson, his lawyer, arrives in Venice with the papers
for the sale of Newstead.
Byron hears that Robert Southey,
whom he despises already on political grounds, has been spreading
rumours about his sex-life in Switzerland, and he composes the
Dedication to Don Juan I.
Don Juan II.
1819 Byron’s English
associates advise against publishing Don Juan I, because of its
portrait of Annabella in Donna Inez.
On the night
of April 1st/2nd, the day on which he sends Don Juan II to John
Murray, Byron meets and falls in love with Teresa Guiccioli.
He follows her to Ravenna.
published on June 28th, and Don Juan I and II (anonymously and
with no publisher’s name) on July 15th.
Teresa comes with him to
Venice, then returns to Ravenna with her husband.
24th, Byron arrives in Ravenna.
Don Juan III and IV are written.
1820 In February,
Byron moves into the Palazzo Guiccioli.
He translates Canto I of
Pulci’s Morgante Maggiore, and writes The Prophecy of Dante.
by Alessandro Guiccioli’s comparison between himself and
Alfieri, he writes Marino Faliero, the first of his three classical
In July, Teresa is granted
a papal decree of separation, and moves into her father’s
house at Filetto.
his Memoirs to Moore.
On December 9th, the military
commandant of Ravenna is shot in the street outside, and Byron
puts it into Don Juan V.
is in Ravenna until October.
He writes his Ravenna Journal,
insurrection fails, and ends his hopes for the liberation of Italy
from the Austrians.
Teresa’s father and
brother are banished from Papal territory, but Byron stays in
The Vision of Judgement on May 27th, leaves it to write The Two
Foscari and Cain, and then finishes it, September 20th–October
He also writes The Blues
and Heaven and Earth.
29th he moves to Pisa to rejoin Teresa’s family, and Shelley’s
circle of friends.
Sardanapalus, Cain, and The
Two Foscari are published on December 19th.
Meanwhile, the Greek War
of Independence has begun.
lives at the Casa Lanfranchi, on the Lung’Arno at Pisa.
He finishes Werner, and writes
the incomplete Deformed Transformed.
makes a record of his conversations.
On March 24th, Sergeant-Major
Masi is pitchforked by one of Byron’s servants after he
has provoked an affray at the city gate.
20th, Allegra dies in the convent at Bagnacavallo.
On July 1st, Leigh Hunt and
his family arrive.
On July 8th,
Shelley, Edward Williams and Charles Vivian drown.
Byron restarts Don Juan,
having stopped writing it upon Teresa Guiccioli finding it objectionable.
of Judgement is published, in the first number of The Liberal,
on October 15th, and Werner, the last of Byron’s works to
be published by John Murray, on November 23rd.
1823 Still at Pisa, Byron
writes The Age of Bronze and The Island, which are published by
John Hunt, as are Cantos VI-XVI of Don Juan.
Lady Blessington, together with Count D’Orsay, visit, April
Byron is elected a member
of the London Greek Committee, and agrees to go to Greece to investigate
the situation there and to help negotiate the Greek loan.
for Greece on July 16th, arriving in Cephalonia on August 3rd.
On August 11 he visits Ithaca.
on Cephalonia until December 29th, when he sails for Missolonghi.
1824 Byron arrives at Missolonghi
on January 5th.
his pay five hundred irregulars who claim to be Suliotes but who
turn out not to be.
With him he takes as servant
Loukas Chalandritsanos, a Greek youth with whom he is in love,
but who does not return his affection.
various charitable acts, such as freeing some Turkish prisoners,
but is soon in a state of acute depression because of Greek dissention
He is commissioned by the
Greek politician Alexander Mavrocordato to lead an expedition
against the Turks at Lepanto, but the poor state of the roads
makes this impossible. He sees no military action.
with the Suliotes, he dismisses them.
On February 15th he has a
Early in April, he goes for
a ride in the rain, and collapses.
have by now removed over 40% of the blood in his body.
He dies on April 19th.