Byron : Life and Legend

4.16 (522 ratings by Goodreads)
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Fiona MacCarthy makes a breakthrough in interpreting Byron's life and poetry drawing on John Murray's world-famous archive.

She brings a fresh eye to his early years: his childhood in Scotland, embattled relations with his mother, the effect of his deformed foot on his development. She traces his early travels in the Mediterranean and the East, throwing light on his relationships with adolescent boys - a hidden subject in earlier biographies.

While paying due attention to the compelling tragicomedy of Byron's marriage, his incestuous love for his half-sister Augusta and the clamorous attention of his female fans, she gives a new importance to his close male friendships, in particular that with his publisher John Murray. She tells the full story of their famous disagreement, ending as a rift between them as Byron's poetry became more recklessly controversial.

Byron was a celebrity in his own lifetime, becoming a 'superstar' in 1812, after the publication of Childe Harold. The Byron legend grew to unprecedented proportions after his death in the Greek War of Independence at the age of thirty-six. The problem for a biographer is sifting the truth from the sentimental, the self-serving and the spurious. Fiona MacCarthy has overcome this to produce an immaculately researched biography, which is also her refreshing personal view.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 720 pages
  • 154 x 232 x 56mm | 840g
  • John Murray Publishers Ltd
  • United Kingdom
  • English
  • 2 x 16 pp colour
  • 144479986X
  • 9781444799866
  • 246,138

Review quote

A magisterial account of Byron's life as a poet, public figure and serial shagger, this 674- page biography is both scholarly and readable . . . MacCarthy also pays due attention to the poetry, and charts his posthumous influence on figures as diverse as Disraeli, Oscar Wilde and W H Auden * Irish Independent * Fiona McCarthy deserves huge credit for uncovering so much new and illuminating information. This impressive biography was originally published in 2002 and has now been updated after MacCarthy undertook new research . . . entertaining and easy-to-read * Irish Examiner *
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About Fiona MacCarthy

Fiona MacCarthy is one of the best known biographers in Britain, establishing her reputation with her widely acclaimed and controversial life of Eric Gill. Her magisterial biography of William Morris, won the Wolfson History Prize and her life of Edward Burne-Jones won the James Tait Black Biography Prize.

Fiona is a Senior Fellow of the Royal College of Art, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and an Hon. Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. In 2009 she was appointed OBE for services to literature.
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Rating details

522 ratings
4.16 out of 5 stars
5 40% (209)
4 41% (214)
3 15% (78)
2 3% (16)
1 1% (5)
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