Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Romantic poet George Gordon, Lord Byron, was born on January 22, 1788, in Aberdeen, Scotland. He was afflicted with a club foot and displayed, even at a young age, what we would call bipolar disorder and precocious passions for both sexes that led to several highly publicized scandals and charges of incest. From age 14 he wrote poetry, which later included “Childe Harold's Pilgrimage” (1812, 1818), a lengthy poem in four parts that expressed a hero’s post-Napoleonic melancholy and disillusionment. This work made Byron stupendously famous. His magnum opus was the long satirical epic poem “Don Juan” (1819, 1824), criticized as immoral but extremely popular. Byron was renowned for his personal beauty (which he enhanced by curling his hair), and he is considered the first “celebrity” in the modern sense, which he fueled through self-promotion. He died of sepsis at age 36 while aiding revolutionaries in Greece.