George Noel Gordon Byron

(6th Lord Byron)

1788 - 1824

Romantic poet. Born in London, Byron's mother, Catherine Gordon of Gight, had to sell the estate she had inherited to pay the debts of his gold-digging and profligate father. She took her son to Aberdeen in 1790, where they were forced to live modestly. His father died the following year. Byron was educated at Aberdeen Grammar School until the age of ten, when he inherited a title and estates from his great-uncle, William "the wicked" Lord Byron, which included an ancestral home, Newstead Abbey in Nottinghamshire, where he and his mother lived for a time. He continued his education privately, then at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge. Byron took his seat in the House of Lords in 1809. He became an instant success with the publishing of his first romantic works around the same time; his poetry and personality captured the imagination of Europe. His major works include The Corsair (1814), Manfred (1817), Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (1818), Cain (1821) and Don Juan (1824). He alludes to his Scottish roots in several of his poems.

He was handsome but his personal life was seen as scandalous, involving several affairs, including sex with young men and an adulterous relationship with his half-sister. His womanising reputation caused him to leave Britain in 1816 and he settled in Greece where became involved in the struggle for independence from Ottoman rule and is still regarded as a national hero in Greece, where he died of a fever gained while fighting in the Missolonghi Marshes.

Despite his popularity, he was regarded too controversial a figure for burial in Westminster Abbey, so was instead laid to rest in the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire, his grave marked by a marble slab presented by the King of Greece. A memorial was finally unveiled at Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey in 1969.

His daughter was Ada Lovelace, who became a noted mathematician and computing pioneer.

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