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George Gordon Byron:

An Inventory of His Collection in the Manuscript Collection at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Creator: Byron, George Gordon Byron, Baron, 1788-1824
Title: George Gordon Byron Collection
Dates: 1642-1968 (bulk 1798-1830)
Extent: 8 document boxes, 1 bound volume, 7 oversize boxes, 3 oversize folders (6.3 linear feet)
Abstract: The George Gordon Byron papers consist of manuscripts, letters, an account book, engravings, handwritten musical scores, wills and other documents, and clippings, all ranging in date from 1642 to 1968, with the majority dating from 1798 to 1830.
RLIN Record ID: TXRC07-A0
Language: English
Access:

Open for research




Acquisition:

Purchases, 1961 (R887), 1964 (R2209), 1965 (R2722), 1966, 1970, 1974, 1977 (R7837), and Gift, 1970

Processed by:

Katherine Mosley, 2007

Repository:

The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center


George Gordon Byron was born in London on January 22, 1788, the son of John "Mad Jack" Byron and Catherine Gordon. His father, having spent his wife’s inheritance, eventually left for France, where he died when Byron was three. Byron and his mother lived in Aberdeen until he became the sixth Baron Byron of Rochdale upon the death of his great uncle, William John Byron, in 1798. At that point, mother and son returned to England and lived briefly at the ancestral estate, Newstead Abbey. John Hanson, the family’s solicitor, brought Byron to London for professional treatment of his clubbed foot and enrolled him in school in Dulwich. Byron attended Harrow from 1801 to 1805, then Trinity College, Cambridge, where he received his degree in 1808.

Byron had his first book of poetry, Fugitive Pieces, privately printed by John Ridge in 1806. Because friends, particularly Reverend Thomas Becher, criticized the work’s eroticism, he suppressed its publication and revised it as Poems on Various Occasions (1807). The work continued to be revised and was published publicly first as Hours of Idleness, A Series of Poems, Original and Translated (1808), with a second edition, revised, appearing in 1808. An unfavorable review of Hours of Idleness spurred Byron to write his first major poetic work, English Bards, and Scotch Reviewers (1809), a satirical jab at critics and poets of the day that also expressed his admiration of neoclassical poets such as John Dryden and Alexander Pope.

Byron toured the eastern Mediterranean from 1809 to 1811, writing Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (1812) along the way. The 500 copies of the first edition of Childe Harold, published by John Murray, sold out in three days, and Byron found himself famous overnight. The most popular poet of his day, Byron is still considered the embodiment of English Romanticism. Over the next few years he published six Romantic verse narratives: The Giaour (1813), The Bride of Abydos (1813), The Corsair (1814), Lara (1814), and The Siege of Corinth and Parasina (1816). All of these were well received. Murray continued as Byron’s publisher until 1823.

Byron’s intriguing private life contributed to his popularity. He had affairs with numerous women and a few men; the most scandalous was with Lady Caroline Lamb. He also may have had a physical relationship with his half sister, Augusta Leigh, to whom he was especially close. In 1815, Byron married Anne Isabella (Annabella) Milbanke. When Annabella’s uncle, Lord Wentworth, died later that year, the Milbankes changed their name to Noel as his will directed. Byron also added the name Noel, becoming George Gordon Noel Byron. Byron’s severe financial difficulties caused him to drink heavily and become hostile to family members, particularly his wife. In 1816, Annabella left him, taking their infant daughter, Augusta Ada Byron, to her parents’ home. Charges of cruelty and adultery were augmented by rumors of an incestuous relationship with Augusta Leigh, and Byron agreed to a legal separation. He left England for Switzerland, where he was met by fellow poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, his wife Mary Godwin, and Godwin’s stepsister Claire (Jane) Clairmont, who was pregnant with Byron’s child (Clara Allegra, who died at age five). Byron and Shelley developed a close friendship, and Byron wrote several poems during this time, including "The Prisoner of Chillon" and "Prometheus." These were followed by Manfred (1817), a Faustian tragedy.

After spending four months in Switzerland, Byron traveled to Italy, where he spent the next seven years. Experimenting with a new style (verse in ottava rima), he wrote Beppo (1818), which was a more lighthearted work than his previous writings. This style was repeated in his acclaimed Don Juan, an epic satire left unfinished at the time of his death. He also wrote several dramas, including Sardanapalus, The Two Foscari, and Cain, A Mystery (1821), which reflected his growing interest in political issues.

In Italy, Byron initially led a life of debauchery, but in 1819 he formed a lasting attachment with the Countess Teresa Guiccioli. In July 1823, Byron sailed for Greece to assist with the war of independence from the Turks. He caught a fever, was bled with leeches, and died on April 19, 1824.


Gatton, John Spalding. "George Gordon Byron. "Dictionary of Literary Biography, volume 96: British Romantic Poets, 1789-1832, Second Series. The Gale Group, 1990; and Dictionary of Literary Biography, volume 110: British Romantic Prose Writers, 1789-1832, Second Series. The Gale Group, 1991.

"The Byron Chronology: A Romantic Circles Scholarly Resource," University of Maryland, www.rc.umd.edu/reference/chronologies/ (accessed January 2007).


The George Gordon Byron papers consist of manuscripts, letters, an account book, engravings, handwritten musical scores, wills and other documents, and clippings, all ranging in date from 1642 to 1968, with the majority dating from 1798-1830. The material is organized in three series: I. Works and Personal Papers, 1805-1829, 1968, undated; II. Correspondence, 1798-1832, 1859, undated; and III. Third Party Correspondence and Manuscripts, 1642, 1761, 1782-1872, 1896-1949, undated. This collection was previously accessible through a card catalog but has been re-cataloged as part of a retrospective conversion project.

The Works series is arranged alphabetically by title. While most of the manuscripts are in Byron’s hand, some are copies in the hand of his wife, Anne Isabella Milbanke Byron, and other persons. Typescript copies are also present. Among Byron’s manuscripts are Cain, A Mystery; Canto VIII and Canto IX of Don Juan; The Island: Or, Christian and His Comrades; Ode to Napoléon Buonaparte; Sardanapolus; and The Siege of Corinth. English Bards, and Scotch Reviewers is represented by a handwritten fragment by Byron, as well as a bound copy in an unidentified hand; an 1817 bound copy in an unidentified hand of the fourth edition; and a printed book interleaved with pasted-in autographs, manuscript notes, portraits of well-known authors, and copies of poems about Byron dating from 1812-1819. Many of Byron’s short poems are present, including "Childish Recollections," "I Saw Thee Weep," "To a Knot of Ungenerous Critics," and "To E. N. Long." Also included are an account book dating from 1819 to 1820, with additional entries by Teresa Guiccioli, and a draft and final copy of Byron’s 1811 will.

The Correspondence series is divided into two subseries: A. Letters, 1806-1831, undated; and B. Bound Letters, 1798-1832, 1859, undated. Subseries A consists of Byron’s outgoing letters, with the exception of letters from Thomas Denman to his sister, Joseph Jekyll to Thomas Ryder, and Georg Freiherr von Ompteda to _____ Delafield, all located with Byron’s letter to John Jackson. Subseries B., Bound Letters, consists of letters by Byron and others, bound together or formerly bound together, and contains some items other than letters. Most of the bound letters are outgoing letters from Byron, but Letters I includes letters from Teresa Guiccioli to Marguerite Blessington, Caroline Lamb to Sydney Morgan, Judith Wentworth Noel to James Burges, a pencil drawing by Caroline Lamb, manuscripts by Byron, and two locks of Byron’s hair, as well as engravings and an illuminated history of Newstead Abbey. Included with Byron’s letters in Letters III are letters from Lady Byron to Anna Jameson, Emily Milner, and Lady Portsmouth; from Catherine Gordon Byron to Augusta Leigh and James Farquhar; from Charlotte Williams to her uncle; from Lega Zambelli to Geo. Batta Missiaglia; and manuscript poems by Lady Byron. Incoming letters to Byron from Edward Dawkins, _____ Storiferri, and John Taaffe, as well as letters between those men, Lorenzo Collini, W. Dunn, Captain John Hay, Marquis Mansi, and Lega Zambelli, all regarding the Pisan Affray, are bound together in Letters IV. Letters V includes, besides letters by Byron, letters by R. Goddard and Caroline Lamb to Sydney Morgan, a note by Lady Morgan, a handwritten charter of the brig "Hercules" by Byron and John Scott, artwork of Greek revolutionaries by Henry Martin, and a manuscript of Byron’s translation of Riga’s "War Song of the Greeks." Letters VI includes letters from Byron to Daniel Roberts and James Holmes regarding the death of Percy Bysshe Shelley, as well as engravings of the poets and clippings about Shelley. In Letters VII, a letter from Catherine Gordon Byron to John Hanson is located with letters from Byron to John Ridge, William John Bankes, and an unidentified recipient regarding his Poems on Various Occasions and Hours of Idleness, as well as an illustration of Byron at Cambridge. Letters II and Letters X through XIV all contain only letters from Byron, including one from Byron to Daniel Roberts regarding Shelley’s death.

Series III., Third Party Correspondence and Manuscripts, includes letters and manuscript poems by Anne Isabella Milbanke Byron; correspondence by Catherine Gordon Byron; musical manuscripts by Thomas Hastings, including the opera he composed based on Byron’s Manfred; and a manuscript by Elizabeth Bridget Pigot of The Wonderful History of Lord Byron & His Dog, as well as correspondence by other individuals. Within numbered miscellaneous groups, there are letters from Augusta Leigh to Anne Isabella Milbanke Bryon, Francis Hodgson, and others; letters regarding Byron’s birth; letters from Teresa Guiccioli regarding Byron; a bound collection of poems, articles, and other materials relating to Byron; and letters from Anne Isabella Milbanke Bryon, primarily to her friend Harriet Siddons.

A complete Index of Correspondents in the Byron archive is located at the end of this inventory. All works by Byron and others are listed in the Index of Works.


Other materials relating to Byron at the Ransom Center may be found in the Prints Collection as well as the Augusta Leigh, Walter Scott, and Percy Bysshe Shelley manuscript collections and the Stark Collection of books.


An 1823 pencil sketch of Byron by Alfred Guillaume Gabriel D’Orsay and an 1824 oil on ivory painting by G. H. Harding of Byron dressed in Greek costume have been removed to the Center’s Art Collection.


People

Becher, J. T. (John Thomas), 1770-1840.

Blessington, Charles John Gardiner, Lord.

Broughton, John Cam Hobhouse, Baron, 1786-1869.

Burges, James Bland, Sir, 1752-1824.

Byron, Anne Isabella Milbanke Byron, Baroness, 1792-1860.

Byron, Catherine Gordon.

Byron, John, 1756-1791.

Clarke, Edward Daniel, 1769-1822.

Crombie, Alexander, 1762?-1840?

Crosby, Ben.

Dallas, Robert Charles.

Dawkins, Edward James, 1792-1865.

Farquhar, James.

Guiccioli, Alessandre, 1817-1840.

Guiccioli, Teresa, contessa di, 1800-1873.

Hanson, John.

Hardy, Anne Louisa Emily Berkeley, Lady.

Harrington, Leicester Stanhope, Earl of, 1784-1862.

Hodgson, Francis, 1781-1852.

Lamb, Caroline, Lady, 1785-1828.

Lamb, Caroline Rosalie St. Jules, Lady.

Leigh, Augusta, 1784-1851.

Lovelace, Ada King, Countess of, 1815-1852.

Maurokordatos, Alexandros, 1791-1865.

Morgan, Lady (Sydney), 1783-1859.

Murray, John, 1778-1843.

Pigot, Elizabeth Bridget, 1783-1866.

Ridge, John.

Roberts, Daniel.

Scott, Walter, Sir, 1771-1832.

Siddons, Harriet, 1783-1844.

Staël, Madame de (Anne-Louise-Germaine), 1766-1817.

Taaffe, John, 1787-1862.

Trelawny, Edward John, 1792-1881.

Webster-Wedderburn, James, Sir, 1789-1840.

Subjects

Authors, English.

English literature.

Poets, English.

Romanticism.

Document Types

Account books.

Scores.

Wills.

Oversize Materials Box 8-14