Lord Byron


  • Highly celebrated in his own time – people talk of him as the face of the Romantic era (disagree)
  • Born to Scottish heiress Catherine Gordon of Gight and John “Mad Jack” Byron who squandered Catherine’s inheritance
  • Sex with both men and women – some sources, including our book, say that he was molested by his maid – there is also significant evidence pointing to an incestuous relationship with his half-sister Augusta which may have yielded a child
  • His behavior worsened later in life which led his wife at the time Annabella Milbanke to submit lists of his symptoms to two physicians in order to get him diagnosed as mad – She later left him in the early morning
  • Wrote in a wide variety of modes (satire, verse narrative, drama, and extraordinary amounts of correspondence)
  • First major poetic work – English Bards and Scottish Reviewers: A Satire – was published anonymously and criticized notable poets of the time (Coleridge, Southey, Wordsworth)
  • Real fame came after the publication of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage
  • While Byron is the namesake and used these characters in much of his work, it can be traced back to John Milton’s character of Satan


  • Harold from Childe’s Pilgrimage is the first (moody and egotistical, meditates on the ruins, death and the vanity of life)
  • Quite frequently mirror Byron himself
  • While the byronic hero is considered an archetype, Byron’s heroes are quite complex and diverse
  • Individualism – both the speakers and their poets enjoyed an aspect of individualism and often reflected feelings of isolation from society
  • Pre-romantic occurs in the late 17th and early 18th century


  • See a metamorphasis of the Byronic hero from
  • Peter Thorslev writes extensively about the Byronic figure and proposes the heroes fall on a spectrum ranging from the darkest Gothic Villain to a more romantic Noble Outlaw. Somewhere in the middle would fall Heroes of Sensibility. These are based on whether they would fall in the pre-Romantic eighteenth century or during the heart of Romanticism.
  • In the pre-Romantic period, the hero’s action were more grotesque and cruel (irreconcilable) but as the tradition developed more towards the Noble Outlaw type who is often a rebel against society and his actions seem justified by his past or his disposition
  • Pre-romantic heros are solitary by birth nature or breeding, while the romantic byronic hero may be solitary because of these reasons but additionally chooses his isolation which often leads to the climax of his experience
  • The Noble Outlaw is passionate and heroic, readers are sympathetic of his rebellion (unlike the gothic villain or gloomy egoist)
  • I don’t think Noble Outlaw encompasses the nuanced character of the byronic hero


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