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Lord Byron

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Sophie J
1615.  Tue Nov 18, 2003 11:20 am Reply with quote

This is news to me; apologies if it's common knowledge.

What was the first 'Byronic' relic to be sold?

A part of foetal membrane that was still stuck over his head when he was born. This membrane is called the caul and is the sac that encloses the foetus. It was believed to have magical powers; preventing people from drowning. Byron's nurse sold his caul to a Royal Naval Captain, James Hanson.
Hanson's ship, HMS Brazen, was wrecked off Newhaven twelve years later and the Captain and all his crew, bar one, died.

s: Byron, Life and Legend
Fiona MacCarthy

 
Jenny
1618.  Tue Nov 18, 2003 12:03 pm Reply with quote

I hope nobody told Byron at the time... though it didn't seem to prevent him from undertaking long swims at sea.

 
Sophie J
1820.  Fri Nov 21, 2003 10:32 am Reply with quote

Byron's daughter was the world's first computer programmer.

Ada Byron, later Countess of Lovelace, met Charles Babbage at a dinner party in 1833 and overheard him talking about his idea for an 'analytical engine': a machine that could make calculations. They began writing to each other and in 1843, after Ada had translated an article written by an Italian called Menabrea, that detailed how this machine would work, Babbage asked her to make her own notes on the subject, given that she understood the concept so well and had a mathematical mind.
Her own notes ended up being about three times as long as the article and in them she explained how you could programme a machine like this, earning her the title of 'the world's first computer programmer'. It was nearly a century before the first electronic computers came into existence.

 
Jenny
1822.  Fri Nov 21, 2003 10:48 am Reply with quote

The US Department of Defence named a computer language ADA after her.

Ada and Babbage also came up with a joint system for beating the odds at horse races - Ada because she was a compulsive gambler and Lovelace because he wanted to fund the building of his engine. However, it didn't work and the resulting debts and dubious associations with (illegal then, I think) bookmakers disgraced them both.

Source: http://www.aimsedu.org/Math_History/Samples/ADA/Ada2.html

 
Sophie J
2012.  Mon Nov 24, 2003 6:57 am Reply with quote

Byron was responsible for Mary Shelley writing 'Frankenstein'.

In the introduction to her novel, Shelley writes "In the summer of 1816, we visited Switzerland, and became the neighbours of Lord Byron...it proved a wet, ungenial summer, and the incessant rain often confined us for days to the house." They (Byron, Percy and Mary Shelley and Dr John Polidori) began to read ghost stories and it was Byron who suggested that they each write one themselves. "I busied myself to think of a story" wrote Mary Shelley, "a story to rival those which had excited us to this task...one to make the reader dread to look round, to curdle the blood".

Mary Shelley was also inspired by philosophical conversations that her husband and Byron used to have. One in particular was about the nature of what made things live and the experiments of Charles Darwin "who preserved a piece of vermicelli in a glass till by some extraordinary means it began to move with voluntary motion." This lead Shelley to question what it would take to re-animate a corpse: "perhaps the component parts of a creature might be manufactured, brought together, and endued with vital warmth".

However she had also been inspired by stories about an anatomist called Konrad Dippel, who was said to have taken bodies out of graves and injected them with a substance that was supposed to have brought them back to life. 'Frankenstein' is named after Dippel's castle - literally translated as 'The Rock of the Franks'.

s:http://www.physics.hku.hk/~tboyce/sf/topics/fiction/frankenstein/book/intro.html
s:http://users.ox.ac.uk/~scat0385/florescu.html

 
Sophie J
2067.  Tue Nov 25, 2003 6:07 am Reply with quote

Byron would have made an enthusiastic contributer to Crap Towns.

He lived periodically in Southwell, near Nottingham, between 1803 and 1808 and described it as: a 'Crater of Dullness' and an 'Abode of Darkness'. He hoped, he said, that it would be demolished by an earthquake.

s: Byron, Life and Legend. Fiona MacCarthy

 
Sophie J
2074.  Tue Nov 25, 2003 7:35 am Reply with quote

Cambridge University did not allow the keeping of dogs, so Byron kept a bear.

He didn't, as is often claimed, keep it in his room though. It was kept in the stables in Ram Yard with Byron's horses. The bear was called Bruin and Byron liked to boast that it would eventually sit for a fellowship. Obviously this was a joke but it was also Byron's way of having a dig at the fact that you had to do so little to become a fellow of the university. Byron believed that it had more to do with money and social standing than academia. He never had to take any exams himself as at that time at Cambridge nobles were exempt from them.

 
Jenny
2085.  Tue Nov 25, 2003 8:49 am Reply with quote

I wonder when and why bears were first called Bruin. This is the earliest reference I've found so far:

Quote:
One of the most enduring fables of European folklore has been the cycle of stories concerning knavish Reynard the Fox and his ability to outwit Isengrim the Wolf, Bruin the Bear, King Noble the Lion, and other animal characters. Le Roman du Rénard probably originated in the French-Flemish border region during the eleventh or twelfth century. Over succeeding centuries, the fable served not only as a means for literary expression, but also as a vehicle for satirical comment on human vices and weaknesses and on the corruptions of feudal institutions. The oldest known German version was composed in 1180 by an Alsatian monk, Heinrich der Glichezaere, but the major source for later German adaptations is to be found in the Flemish Reinaert de Vos, written by one Willem around 1250.


http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/e/spcl/excat/berlin/popular.html

 
Liebig
3327.  Tue Dec 16, 2003 10:09 am Reply with quote

Quote:
I sometimes wish that I was the owner of Africa....

BYRON, Detatched Thoughts, 1821-1822

 
Jenny
3476.  Thu Dec 18, 2003 10:15 pm Reply with quote

I wrote a brief autobiographical note about Byron for a book called Key Poets that I edited for the schools market for Penguin in 1995. I reproduce it here for your interest (the book went out of print last year!):

George Gordon Noel, 6th Baron Byron (1788-1824)

Byron, a contemporary of Shelley and Keats, is one of the most famous of the ‘Romantic’ poets. This was partly because of his looks, personality, aristocratic background and family wealth as well as the literary talent which helped him conquer women all over London society. ‘Mad, bad, and dangerous to know’ as one notorious lover, Caroline Lamb, described him, he and the characters he described in his poems and plays (often modelled on his own personality) became the model of a hundred romantic heroes of later novels.

Although he was born in London in January 1788, he spent his early childhood in Scotland. His father ‘Mad Jack’ Byron, died when he was three. The household was disorderly and poor, and Byron suffered at the hands of a vain and violent mother and a drunken nurse, who some biographers believe may have sexually abused him when he was a child. He had a club foot, and although he worked hard at becoming athletic, especially in swimming where it was less of a problem, this handicap often made him unhappy, and he was sensitive about it.

When Byron was ten, he inherited a title and the estate of Newstead Abbey in Nottinghamshire from his great-uncle. In 1800 he went to Harrow School. He looked back on his school days with affection, which shows in his poem On A Distant View Of Harrow. He was popular with other boys, though not always with teachers. A letter to his mother complains bitterly about a teacher’s treatment of him.

In 1805 he went up to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he spent as much time swimming, playing cricket, gambling and going to parties as he did studying. Determined to stand out from the crowd, he kept a pet bear. While he was still at university, his first book of poems, Hours of Idleness, was published.

After leaving Cambridge, Byron spent two years travelling in Europe and the Middle East. In the first two cantos of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, which he published when he came back, he described the wonderful things and places he had seen, particularly in his beloved Greece. His hero, Childe Harold, was the first in a succession of young men with stormy emotions, shunning humanity and tormented by mysterious sins from a guilty past, who became known as ‘Byronic heroes’. Gothic chillers were very popular then, and this kind of hero was immediately appealing.

The poem was a tremendous success, and Byron became famous. The whole of fashionable London, particularly the female part, wanted to meet the handsome, witty poet, whom they saw as the personification of the romantic heroes of his poems. Byron did not discourage them, and had many scandalous affairs, notably with Lady Caroline Lamb, wife of Sir William Lamb, later Lord Melbourne, who pursued him even after he tired of her. She was emotionally disturbed and lost so much weight that Byron cruelly commented to her mother-in-law, his friend Lady Melbourne, that he was 'haunted by a skeleton.' She began to call on him at home, sometimes dressed in disguise, at a time when such an act could ruin both of them socially. One day, during such a visit, she wrote on a book at his desk, 'Remember me!' As a retort, Byron wrote the poem with this title which is printed here. Byron was at the height of his literary fame at this time, and his poems sold out as fast as he could write them: The Giaour and The Bride of Abydos in 1813, The Corsair and Lara in 1814, and Hebrew Melodies in 1815.

Byron married Anne Isabella (‘Annabella’) Milbanke in 1815, but she left him shortly after their daughter Augusta was born. Rumours and scandals circulated about his private life, and the fashionable society he loved shunned him, especially after Lady Caroline Lamb spread a rumour that he had confessed to her that he had committed incest with his half-sister, Augusta Leigh, and was the father of her child. In 1816, he left England forever.

After writing the third canto of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage and the narrative poem The Prisoner of Chillon in Geneva, Byron moved to Italy, where he spent most of the rest of his life. He continued to write poetry, particularly the long satire Don Juan, often considered his best work, and also made less successful attempts at writing poetic drama. Sunk in debt, he was forced to sell his beloved Newstead Abbey to have money to live on.

At this time, he befriended two other English poets living in Italy: Percy Bysshe Shelley and Leigh Hunt. An affair with Shelley’s sister-in-law, Claire Clairmont, led to the birth of another daughter, Allegra, who died aged only five after Byron sent her to be cared for in a convent when her mother abandoned her. Shelley’s early death in 1822 hit Byron hard. This had been his closest literary friendship, and they had many thoughts and beliefs in common, as well as a sincere appreciation of each other’s work.

Despite his passion for the young Countess Teresa Guicciolo, which led to her abandoning her husband to live with him, he left her to support the Greeks in their revolt against the Turks. Byron joined the Greek forces at Missolonghi in 1823 despite poor health. He not only recruited a regiment to fight for Greek independence, but contributed his own money to the cause. In return, the Greeks made him commander in chief of their forces in January 1824. However, he died of what may have been a combination of epilepsy and rheumatic fever aggravated by poor medical treatment at the age of 36. His heart was kept in Greece, but his body was brought back and buried near his English home. Because of the scandal surrounding him, no plaque to his honour was erected in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey until the more tolerant 1960s.

The most striking thing about Byron’s poetry is its strength and masculinity. Trenchantly witty, Byron saw himself in the satiric tradition of Pope and Dryden and vividly expressed his detestation for the popular Lake Poets in the section from Canto III of Don Juan printed here. He used unflowery and colloquial language in many poems, such as Written after Swimming from Sestos to Abydos. He had a turn for drama, expressed in the vibrantly galloping rhythms of The Destruction of Sennacherib. However, he could also write poems such as When We Two Parted and So We’ll Go No More A-Roving, which express strong feelings in simple and touching language. He made little use of imagery and did not aspire to write of things beyond this world; the Victorian critic John Ruskin wrote of him that he ‘spoke only of what he had seen and known; and spoke without exaggeration, without mystery, without enmity, and without mercy.’

 
hardie
3556.  Sat Dec 20, 2003 5:48 pm Reply with quote

Byron is one candidate in the theory linking manic depression and creativity:
Quote:
Scores of influential 18th- and 19th-century poets, notably William Blake, Lord Byron and Alfred, Lord Tennyson, wrote about the extreme mood swings they endured. Modern American poets John Berryman, Randall Jarrell, Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Theodore Roethke, Delmore Schwartz and Anne Sexton were all hospitalized for either mania or depression during their lives. And many painters and composers, among them Vincent van Gogh, Georgia O'Keeffe, Charles Mingus and Robert Schumann, have been similarly afflicted.
http://www.wga.org/health/creativity_bipolar.htm

 
JumpingJack
4311.  Tue Jan 13, 2004 5:35 pm Reply with quote

This is from an early QIDb entry:

Quote:
Byron was short, fat and club-footed. He lost his virginity to his nanny at the age of nine. In later life,he had an affair with his sister, drank burgundy from a human skull and bought handkerchieves in batches of 100 at a time. Priced at nine guineas each, each one cost the annual salary of the average working man.

More biographies (over 300) have been written about him than anyone else except Abraham Lincoln and Jesus Christ.



(Not sure the last 'fact' can be made to stand up in court. I've also heard it said of Robert Burns, for example).

 
Treb
659774.  Wed Jan 20, 2010 1:26 pm Reply with quote

Sophie J wrote:
This is news to me; apologies if it's common knowledge.

What was the first 'Byronic' relic to be sold?

A part of foetal membrane that was still stuck over his head when he was born. This membrane is called the caul and is the sac that encloses the foetus. It was believed to have magical powers; preventing people from drowning. Byron's nurse sold his caul to a Royal Naval Captain, James Hanson.
Hanson's ship, HMS Brazen, was wrecked off Newhaven twelve years later and the Captain and all his crew, bar one, died.

s: Byron, Life and Legend
Fiona MacCarthy


Wish we had that for our bog roll when HMS Brazen ran around in 1994 ><

 

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