April 19, 2008

April 19 | George Gordon Byron

January 22, 1788 - April 19, 1824: Age 36

George Gordon, Lord Byron, was one of England's most influential poets and one of her many famous bad boys. We met him briefly as the father of Ada Lovelace, the polymath who invented computers, but the two shared only two qualities: brilliance and beauty. As it happens hardly knew each other.

Byron inherited his titles and estates at the age of 10. His first published works, "Fugitive Pieces", included poems he'd written at the age of 14, but the edition was immediately recalled and burned because of its sexy content. Byron was bisexual, and fell in love frequently.

He continued to publish and by the time he was in his mid-20s people with eyes for such things could see he was a very, very important poet. People with eyes for other things were scandalized by the sexual and satirical content of his work. A series of sexual scandals, including adultery, homosexuality, and incest, forced him into marriage with Ada's mother, but he quickly tired of this and left England forever.

In 1823 he was invited, through the Greek acquaintances he met during his "grand tour" of Europe as a young man, to become involved in the Greek independence movement. He entered the fray with gusto, spending a huge sum of money on refitting the Greek naval fleet. While preparing for an attack on a Turkish-held fortress at the Gulf of Corinth, he fell ill, and when the customary treatment of bleeding was applied it made him worse. In early April he caught a nasty cold, which developed into fever. Weakened by continued medicinal bleeding, he died on April 19.

Ironically, it was medicinal bleeding that killed his daughter Ada as well 26 years later. Despite the fact they hardly knew each other, they are buried side by side in Nottingham.

Source: Wikipedia

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