Lord Byron (1788-1824) - Byron (of Rochdale), George (Gordon), 6th Baron The most notorious Romantic poet and satirist. Byron was famous in his lifetime for his love affairs with women and Mediterranean boys. He created his own cult of personality, the concept of the 'Byronic hero' - a defiant, melancholy young man, brooding on some mysterious, unforgivable in his past. "There's not a joy the world can give that it takes away / When the glow of early thought declines in feeling's dull decay, / 'Tis not on youth's smooth cheek the blush alone, which fades so fast, / But the tender bloom of heart is gone, ere youth itself be past." Byron's influence on European poetry, music, novel, opera, and painting has been immense, although the poet was widely condemned on moral grounds by his contemporaries. Polygamy may well be held in dread, Not only as a sin, but as a bore. George Gordon, Lord Byron, was the son of Captain John Byron, and Catherine Gordon of Gight, a self-indulgent, somewhat hysterical woman, who was his second wife. He was born with a club-foot and became extreme sensitivity about his lameness. His life did not become easier when he received painful treatments for his foot by a quack practitioner in 1799. Eventually he got a corrective boot. At home Byron's alcoholic governess made sexual advances when he was nine. According to some sources, Byron was also seduced by the lord who rented his mansion before he inherited it. In his works short and stout Byron glorified proud heroes, who overcome hardships. The poet himself was only 5 feet 8 1/2 inches tall and his widely varying weight ranged from 137 to 202 pounds - he once said that everything he swallowed was instantly converted to tallow and deposited on his ribs. One of his friends noted that at the age of about 30 he looked 40 and "the knuckles of his hands were lost in fat." Byron spent his early childhood years in poor surroundings in Aberdeen, where he was educated until he was ten. His father died in 1791, and the fifth baron's grandson was killed in 1794. After he inherited the title and property of his great-uncle in 1798, he went on to Dulwich, Harrow, where he excelled in swimming, and Cambridge, where he piled up depths and aroused alarm with bisexual love affairs. Staying at Newstead in 1802, he probably first met his half-sister, Augusta Leigh. At the age of fifteen he fell in love with Mary Chaworth, his distant cousin, whom he wrote the poem 'To Emma'. In 1807 appeared Byron's first collection of poetry, HOURS OF IDLENESS. It received bad reviews. The poet answered his critics with satire ENGLISH BARDS AND SCOTCH REVIEWS in 1808. Next year he took his seat in the House of Lords, and set out on his grand tour, visiting Spain, Albania, Greece, and the Aegean. In Malta he stopped for treatments of gonorrhea. Success came in 1812 when Byron published the first two cantos of CHILDE HAROLD'S PILGRIMAGE (1812-1818). "I awoke one morning and found myself famous," he later said. He became an adored character of London society, he spoke in the House of Lords effectively on liberal themes, and had a hectic love-affair with Lady Caroline Lamb. ''Mad - bad - and dangerous to know,'' she wrote in her journal on the evening she first saw him. But the love of Byron's life was according to Fiona MacCarthy (see Byron: Life and Legend, 2002) an impoverished choirboy named John Edleston.