Live, Laugh AND Eat Cake!

"And I go to my bed with a heaviness of heart at having lived so long, and to so little purpose." Two hundred and thirty two years ago - Lord Byron made his appearance and even though he shuffled off this mortal planet in 1824 - I still intend to enjoy a large slice or three of this delicious cake in his honour...

MAY You Marry in Haste?

"Mr Farquar of Doctor’s Commons has a copy of the certificate of my marriage which he got from Bath…..I was married however on the 12th or 13th May (I don’t know which..." It is interesting that Byron’s mother should have been unsure as to the precise date of her fated marriage to John Byron in the year 1785. With her Scottish ancestry for omens and superstition perhaps Catherine’s confusion is understandable for she did indeed marry ‘Mad Jack’ Byron on Friday May 13 and by all accounts their brief marriage was a disaster.

A Melancholy, ‘Honeft Man’…

Byron was noted for his open manner and of his tendency to admit his feelings of despondency, sorrow or his word of choice - melancholy. For his poetry is noted for it, his private journals speak of it and he was often candid about his "constitutional depression of Spirits" in letters to his friends. Although the study of genetics was unknown in Byron's time, he always believed that he was 'doomed' by the fact that he was a in the words of his mother a "true Byrrone" Despite his charm, his father was considered a fickle profligate and adulterer and with an irate temper, extreme moods and bouts of depression; Byron's mother Catherine Gordon was more than a match for 'Mad Jack' as he was known throughout society. In the light of his parents' temperaments and that death by suicide is hinted at on ALL sides of Byron's unique family; it is perhaps NOT surprising that Byron was frequently one unhappy chap...

Adieu Most Amiable Mamma…

In the hagiography which often passes for the writing of Byron's life, Catherine Gordon Byron is somewhat of a Marmite figure for you will either love her or you hate her! However, my hatred of Marmite is equal to the fondness that I have for the story of this most 'Amiable Mamma' who Byron described as 'A tender and peremptory parent who indulged me sometimes with holidays and now and then with a box on the ear.'

The Baptism of a Rake?

'March 1st, George Gordon, son, of John Byron Esq. & Catherine...' The date was entered in error as the clerk had obviously forgotten that 1788 was a Leap Year...."Save February, with twenty-eight days clear, And twenty-nine each leap year." This would prove to be the first and one of many errors written about the life of Byron and not only during his lifetime! Another visitor to St Marylebone Parish Church was the artist William Hogarth who used the interior of the church for inspiration for his 1735 painting for the series titled 'A Rake's Progress'...

A Devil of a Birthday Boy!

Throughout his short life and in the years that have followed Byron was always considered to be a wonderful mass of contradictions and one with peculiar regularity can still arouse fury, passion, loyalty and debate; however, Byron would only think of himself as le diable boiteux - the lame devil. He was born on this day in 1788 with a malformation of his right leg and foot which he believed to be the worst catastrophe of his entire life and as Byron still remains a figure of intrigue, it is perhaps not altogether surprising that the nature of his deformed limb should also provoke controversy!

A Leap Day Baptism of Light…

Today, as we celebrate another Leap Day some 228 years later, the Polite Tourist invites you to take a look at the wonderful church which honoured the birth of a future Poet and which also served as the inspiration for a painting by the artist William Hogarth...

The Birth of Boy George

Despite Byron's enduring fame, the circumstances of his birth were far from auspicious for he was born on Tuesday January 22 1788 in a rented apartment on the first floor above a shop in Holles Street in Cavendish Square London to Catherine Gordon Byron, who as a lone young mother had no family nearby for emotional and financial support....