George Gordon Byron, the 6th Baron Byron, was an early 19th century poet, nobleman, politician, and leading figure in the Romantic Movement who was a celebrity both famous and infamous during his life. While he is seen as one of the greatest British poets of all time, to be fair here, I am not exactly sure where to even begin with Lord Byron this week, this being a man who thought himself “such a strange mélange of good and evil that it would be difficult to describe [him].” There is of course his more well-known sexual exploits – he was definitely indiscriminate in who he wanted to sleep with, and that included his half-sister and some serious STD’s in his early twenties. In one year alone, Byron banged over two hundred and fifty people in Venice, and to mark each conquest, he would take a clipping of his lovers pubic hair and save it in an envelope with their name on it. He was best friends with Percy Shelley (husband of Mary Shelley, who we covered previously), he kept a multitude of animals on his estate in Italy – every one of them lived indoors except the horses, he had a goblet for drinking wine made from a human skull, struggled with what scientists now believe had to be anorexia nervosa due to his obsession with his appearance, and then, to cap it all off, Byron decided he was going to help fund a war and consequently became a national war hero in Greece while the Greeks fought the Ottoman Empire in the Greek War of Independence. Described by one of his lovers as “mad, bad, and dangerous to know,” all I can say is that the tale of Lord Byron is one that rivals both Hemingway and Thompson put together – he lived a life of aristocratic excess, racking up huge debts, being beloved and castigated by society for his antics, as well as manned the forefront of a new era of literature. Byron scandalized England with his exploits, revolutionized poetry with his writing, and to be frank, the world around him really didn’t know what to do with him. I don’t know what to do with him either. So let’s try and get a better understanding of just what made Lord Byron into the man he was this week on episode 12 of Legacy, the Artists Behind the Legends.

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