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Passions in PoetryLord George Gordon Byron
1788 - 1824

George Gordon Byron was the son of Captain John Byron by his marriage to the Scottish Catherine Gordon of Gight. He was born with a club foot of which he was very self-conscious and educated in Aberdeen, where his family had moved to escape their debts, and at Harrow and Cambridge. Byron inherited the family home, Newstead Abbey, following the deaths of his father in 1791 and grandfather in 1798. He took up his seat in the House of Lords in 1808 and then left to travel in Europe, at which time he began writing his immensely popular poem Childe Harolde, returning to a political role again in 1813 when he spoke on liberal themes in the House. In 1815 he married Annabella Milbanke, but she left him soon afterwards, taking their child with her. Throughout his life he fathered several illegitimate children and had numerous scandalous affairs, the most notorious being with his half-sister Augusta, his father's daughter by an earlier marriage. This affair horrified English society and encouraged Byron in his decision to leave England for good in 1816. He stayed with the Shelleys in Geneva, where he wrote The Prisoner of Chillon, then after a trip to Rome in 1817 he returned to Venice where he wrote Beppo his first work in a new ironic style. Don Juan was begun the following year. Fired by the Greek battle for independence from Turkey, Byron sailed to Missolonghi in 1824, where he gave money and inspiration to the rebels but died of a fever before seeing action.

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