George Gordon Byron

George Gordon Byron (1788-1824) was a real fighter; he struggled against despotism with both pen and sword. Freedom was the cause that he served all his life.
Like all the romantic writers of his time, Byron, was disappointed with the results of the French Resolution, but unlike the Lake Poets who condemned their former beliefs and tried to escape from reality into the world of dreams and mysticism, he remained true to the ideas of liberty and equality.
George Gordon Byron was born in London , on January 22, 1788, in an impoverished Aristocratic family. His mother, Catherine Gordon, was a Scottish lady of honourable birth and respectable fortune. After having run through his own and most of his wife’s fortune, his father, an army officer, died when the future poet was only three years old. George was very lonely from early childhood. His mother was a woman of quick feelings and strong passions. Now she kissed him, now she scolded him. In one of her fits of passion she called him “a lame brat» and the boy could not forgive her this insult. He was lame from birth and was sensitive about it all his life, yet, thanks to his strong will and regular training; he became an excellent rider, a champion swimmer, a boxer and took part in athletic exercises.
Byron spent the first ten years of his life in Scotland. He attended grammar school in Aberdeen. The boy was fond of reading books about travels, especially those related to the East. These books greatly influenced his poetical development.
In 1798 George's grand-uncle died and the boy inherited the title of baron and the family estate of the Byrons, Newstead Abbey, in Nottinghamshire. Together with his mother and nurse, to whom he was deeply attached, the boy moved to Newstead, from where he was sent to Harrow School, at seventeen he entered Cambridge University.
George was sixteen when he fell in love with his distant relative Mary Chaworth, and in her his youthful imagination seemed to have found the ideal of womanly perfection. However, she did not return his affection. But he remembered his first love all his life and it coloured much of his writing. In the first canto of "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" the poet sings that Harold "sighed to many, though he loved but one". Mary Chaworth was the one the poet loved.
While a student, Byron published his first collection of poems "Hours of Idleness" (1807), but was attacked by a well-known critic in the magazine "Edinburgh Review". In 1809 the poet published a satirical poem "English Bards and Scotch Reviewers"-a reply to that critical article. In the spring of 1808 Byron graduated from the University and received his Master of Arts degree, and next year took his hereditary seat in the House of Lords.
In 1809 he left England on a long journey, which took two years. He visited Portugal, Spain, Albania, Greece, and Turkey, and during his travels wrote the first two Santos of "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage”.
In 1812 they were published. They were received with a burst of enthusiasm by his contemporaries, and Byron became one of the most popular men in London. Between 1813 and 1816 Byron composed his "Oriental Tales", "The Giaour", "The Corsair", "Lara", and others. These tales embody the poet’s romantic individualism. The hero of each poem is a rebel against society. He is a man of strong will and passion. Proud and independent, he rises against tyranny and injustice to gain his personal freedom and happiness. His revolt, however, is too individualistic, and therefore it is doomed to failure. These romantic poems were admired by
Byron's contemporaries and caused a new mode of thought and feeling called “Byronism".
"Hebrew Melodies” (1815) – a collection of lyrical verses, confirmed Byron's popularity.
In 1815 Byron married Miss Isabella Milbanke. She was a religious woman, cold and pedantic. It was an unlucky match. Though Byron was fond of their only child Augusta Ada, and did not want to break up the family, separation was inevitable. The scandal around tile divorce was enormous. On April 25, 1816 Byron left England forever. He went to Switzerland. Here he made the acquaintance of Shelley, and the two poets became close friends.
While in Switzerland, Byron wrote the third canto of “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage" (1816), "The Prisoner of Chillon" (1816), the dramatic poem "Manfred" (1817), and many lyrical poems.
In 1817 Byron left for Italy. He visited Venice, Rayenna, Pisa, and Genoa. In Italy he joined the secret organization of the. Carbonari, engaged in the struggle against the Austrian oppressors.
The Italian period (1817 -1823) may be considered to be the summit of Byron's poetical career. He wrote "Beppo" (1818), "Don Jain” (1819-1824), the fourth canto of “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage" (1818), "The Prophecy of Dante"(1821), the dramas "Marino Faliero" (1820) and "Cain" (1821), his satirical masterpieces "The Vision of Judgment", (1822) and "The Age of Bronze"(1823)
The defeat of the Carbonari uprising (1822) was a heavy blow to Byron. The war of Greece against the Turks, which had been going on for two years, attracted his attention. Byron longed for action, and went to Greece to take pan in the struggle for national independence. Soon after his arrival he was seized with fever and died at Missolonghi on April 18, 1824, at the age of thirty-six.

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