George Gordon Byron, Lord
English Peer, Poet, Politician
Country:England, Ottoman Empire, Turkey
Lifetime: 1788 - 1824 Passed: ≈ 198 years ago
George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, known simply as Lord Byron, was an English peer, who was a poet and politician. He was one of the leading figures of the Romantic Movement and is regarded as one of the greatest English poets. He remains widely read and influential. Among his best-known works are the lengthy narrative poems Don Juan and Childe Harold's Pilgrimage; many of his shorter lyrics in Hebrew Melodies also became popular.
He travelled extensively across Europe, especially in Italy, where he lived for seven years in the cities of Venice, Ravenna, and Pisa. During his stay in Italy he frequently visited his friend and fellow poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Later in life Byron joined the Greek War of Independence fighting the Ottoman Empire and died of disease leading a campaign during that war, for which Greeks revere him as a national hero. He died in 1824 at the age of 36 from a fever contracted after the First and Second Siege of Missolonghi.
His only marital child, Ada Lovelace, is regarded as a foundational figure in the field of computer programming based on her notes for Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine. Byron's extramarital children include Allegra Byron, who died in childhood, and possibly Elizabeth Medora Leigh, daughter of his half-sister Augusta Leigh.
George Gordon Byron was born on 22 January 1788, on Holles Street in London – his birthplace is now supposedly occupied by a branch of the department store John Lewis.
Byron was the only child of Captain John Byron (known as 'Jack') and his second wife Catherine Gordon, heiress of the Gight estate in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Byron's paternal grandparents were Vice-Admiral John Byron and Sophia Trevanion. Having survived a shipwreck as a teenage midshipman, Vice Admiral John Byron set a new speed record for circumnavigating the globe. After he became embroiled in a tempestuous voyage during the American Revolutionary War, John was nicknamed 'Foul-Weather Jack' Byron by the press.
Byron received his early formal education at Aberdeen Grammar School, and in August 1799 entered the school of Dr. William Glennie, in Dulwich. Placed under the care of a Dr. Bailey, he was encouraged to exercise in moderation but could not restrain himself from "violent" bouts in an attempt to overcompensate for his deformed foot. His mother interfered with his studies, often withdrawing him from school, with the result that he lacked discipline and his classical studies were neglected.
In 1801, he was sent to Harrow, where he remained until July 1805. An undistinguished student and an unskilled cricketer, he did represent the school during the very first Eton v Harrow cricket match at Lord's in 1805.
Mavrokordatos and Byron planned to attack the Turkish-held fortress of Lepanto, at the mouth of the Gulf of Corinth. Byron employed a fire-master to prepare artillery, and he took part of the rebel army under his own command, despite his lack of military experience. Before the expedition could sail, on 15 February 1824, he fell ill, and bloodletting weakened him further. He made a partial recovery, but in early April he caught a violent cold, which therapeutic bleeding, insisted on by his doctors, aggravated. This treatment, carried out with unsterilised medical instruments, may have caused him to develop sepsis. He contracted a violent fever and died in Missolonghi on 19 April.
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