Lord Byron was an English poet and a leading figure in the Romantic movement. Among his best-known works are the lengthy narrative poems Don Juan and Childe Harold's Pilgrimage and the short lyric She Walks in Beauty. He is regarded as one of the greatest British poets.
George Gordon Byron was the only child of Captain John "Mad Jack" Byron and his second wife, Catherine Gordon. He was born with a clubbed right foot. His father moved to France to escape English creditors, and in the summer of 1789 George moved with his mother to Aberdeen, Scotland. With the death in 1798 of his great-uncle, the fifth Lord Byron, 10-year-old George became the sixth Baron Byron of Rochdale, heir to Newstead Abbey, the family seat in Nottinghamshire. He attended school at Harrow and wrote Childish Recollections, a collection of poems about his friendships there. He attended Trinity College at Cambridge, intermittently from October 1805 until July 1808, when he received a Master of Arts degree. He became a celebrity with the publication of the first two cantos of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage in 1812.
On 2 January 1815 he married Anne Isabella Noel, Baroness Wentworth, at Seaham Hall, County Durham, England. Their daughter, Augusta Ada, was born in December 1815. Lady Byron left with her infant daughter in January 1816, and they legally separated in March. In April 1816, the scandal of their separation, the rumors about his affair with his half-sister Augusta, and his ever-increasing debt, forced him to leave England. He spent the last eight years of his life in Switzerland, Italy, and Greece.
Byron was – as he wrote in Don Juan, Canto VIII – a firm believer that “Revolution/Alone can save the earth from hell’s pollution”. He supported Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire and spent £4,000 of his own money to refit the Greek fleet. He employed a fire-master to prepare artillery and took part of the rebel army under his own command, but fell ill before the expedition could sail. Among his last recorded words were, “I have given [Greece] my time, my means, my health – and now I give her my life! – what could I do more?” The Greek nation was overwhelmed by grief. At memorial services throughout the country, Byron was proclaimed a national hero. His death served to unite Greece against the enemy and elicited support from all over the world.
Lord Byron died on 19 April 1824 at Missolonghi, Greece at age 36. He was buried on 16 July 1824 at Hucknall-Torkard, Nottinghamshire, England.
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