Portrait of Lord Byron (Lithograph)
1788 On January 22nd, George Gordon Byron born in London, son of Captain John “Mad Jack” Byron (nephew of the 5th Baron of Rochdale) and his second wife, Catherine Gordon of Gight.
In 1789 Captain Byron deserts Catherine, and she moves with her son to Aberdeen.
1791 Captain Byron dies in France.
From 1794 to 1798, Byron is educated at Aberdeen Grammar School.
1794 Byron becomes heir to the title of Rochdale upon the death of his cousin at the siege of Calvi.
1798 Becomes the sixth Lord Byron when his great-uncle dies. He inherits Newstead Abbey, Nottinghamshire.
1799 Moves to London and attends Dr Glennie’s school, Dulwich.
1801 Enters Harrow School, where he makes many passionate male friendships.
1803 Mrs Byron rents Burgage Manor, Southwell, Nottinghamshire.
Byron falls in love with his cousin Mary Chaworth, who does not reciprocate.
1805 Byron enters Trinity College, Cambridge, where he makes friends with John Cam Hobhouse, Scrope Davies, Douglas Kinnaird, and Charles Skinner Matthews. However, he spends most of the next three years at Southwell, where he organises theatricals and publishes his juvenile poetry: Fugitive Pieces (printed and withdrawn in November 1806) and Poems on Various Occasions (published January 1807).
1807 Hours of Idleness published in Newark, Nottinghamshire. Byron leaves Cambridge.
1808 In February, Hours of Idleness is abused in the Edinburgh Review; its successor, Poems Original and Translated, is published. Byron is in London, Brighton, and at Newstead.
1809 On March 13th Byron takes his seat, as a Whig, in the House of Lords.
Also in March, the first edition of English Bards and Scotch Reviewers is published.
With his friend John Cam Hobhouse, Byron leaves England on July 2nd for a tour of the Mediterranean.
They visit Portugal (July 7th-20th), Spain (July 20th-August 3rd), Gibraltar (August 4th-16th), Sardinia, and Malta (August 31st).
On Malta, English naval and diplomatic intelligence persuades them to visit Ali Pacha at Tepellene in Albania.
They land in Greece (at Patras) on September 26th, and visit Ali’s headquarters, October 19th-23rd.
On about October 31st, Byron begins Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage I.
On December 15th they pass through Delphi, and on Christmas Day arrive at Athens.
1810 Byron is in Athens with Hobhouse until March 5th, when they travel to Smyrna [Izmir].
At Ephesus on March 13th.
Byron finishes Childe Harold II, March 28th.
On April 11th, Byron leaves for Constantinople [Istanbul].
Byron swims Hellespont, May 3rd.
At Constantinople, May 13th–July 14th.
Arrives back in Athens (without Hobhouse), July 18th.
On July 21st, goes to the Morea.
In August, is back in Athens, staying at the Capuchin monastery. Very friendly with the boy scholars there.
In September, to the Morea again.
In October, returns to Athens.
Visits Sunium again in December.
1811 In Athens from January 1st to June 2nd.
Writes Hints from Horace and starts The Curse of Minerva.
Returns to England on July 14th.
On August 1st his mother dies.
From October 28th, lives at 8 St James’s Street, London.
Meets Samuel Rogers and Thomas Moore.
John Murray agrees to publish Childe Harold I and II.
At Newstead, Byron falls in love with the Welsh servant girl, Susan Vaughan, who betrays him with Robert Rushton, his page.
1812 On February 27th Byron delivers his first speech in the House of Lords, opposing the death-penalty for industrial sabotage by starving Nottinghamshire workers – the Frame Breakers Bill.
He gives two more speeches, then ceases all parliamentary activity.
Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage I & II is published on March 10th, and he is famous instantly.
On March 25th he sees Annabella Milbanke for the first time.
Has his brief – and most notorious – love affair, with Lady Caroline Lamb.
Meets Lady Melbourne, who is to become his preceptress and confidante.
He tries to sell Newstead Abbey on August 14th, but it fails to reach its reserve price at the auction, and for the next six years his finances remain insecure.
He is commissioned by the Drury Lane Committee to write an Address for the opening of their new theatre.
He also writes Waltz, which is published anonymously.
At the end of the year, is deep into an affair with Elizabeth, Countess of Oxford.
1813 From March to December, The Giaour is published in editions of increasing length.
At the year’s end Byron writes The Bride of Abydos and starts The Corsair.
He is much in Whig society; he meets Madame de Staël.
His liaison with his half-sister Augusta starts, he flirts with Frances Wedderburn Webster, and begins marriage overtures to Annabella Milbanke.
The Bride of Abydos is published on December 2nd.
1814 On February 1st The Corsair sells 10,000 copies on the first day of its publication. However, Byron refuses payment, signing away the copyright to R.C.Dallas. Up to 1816 he persistently refuses payment for his poems, but Murray pays him anyway.
Byron takes an apartment in the Albany.
He writes Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte, expressing partial disillusionment with the man who has hitherto been his hero.
Lara is published on August 6th.
In October he starts Hebrew Melodies, in collaboration with Isaac Nathan.
In December he travels with Hobhouse to Seaham, County Durham, to marry Annabella Milbanke.
1815 Marries Annabella on January 2nd.
They honeymoon at Halnaby in Yorkshire: the marriage at once shows signs of strain.
At the end of March they move in to 13, Piccadilly Terrace.
Hebrew Melodies is published in April.
Byron writes to Coleridge, meets Scott, and joins the Sub-Committee of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.
His behaviour at home becomes more and more erratic and boorish.
Annabella becomes pregnant.
Their daughter, Augusta Ada, is born on December 10th.
At the end of the year Byron writes Parisina and The Siege of Corinth.
Lords Byron's statue in the Garden of Heroes, Messolonghi (sculpture G. Vitalis)
1816 On January 15th, acting on a suggestion from Byron, Annabella leaves him, taking their child, and they never meet again.
Byron writes two poems about the separation, Fare Thee Well! and A Sketch from Private Life.
For the rest of his life his complaint is that he doesn’t know why she left him.
After a separation agreement has been signed, Byron leaves England on April 25th.
He never returns.
Douglas Kinnaird acts as his literary agent. From now on, Byron is happy to receive large fees for his poetry.
Accompanied by Dr Polidori, he travels via Brussels and the field of Waterloo down the Rhine valley to Geneva in Switzerland. He goes in a replica of Napoleon’s travelling coach – for which he never pays.
In Geneva he meets Shelley, Mary Godwin, and Claire Claremont, who is already pregnant by him.
He writes Childe Harold III, The Prisoner of Chillon, Darkness, and The Dream.
He begins Manfred.
Again he meets Madame de Staël.
On August 26th, Hobhouse arrives in Geneva with Scrope Davies.
Two days later, Shelley, Mary Godwin, and Claire Claremont leave.
In September Byron and Hobhouse go on an Alpine tour, then, on October 5th, they cross the Alps and enter Italy.
They are in Milan from October 12th to November 3rd, and by November 10th they are in Venice.
On November 18th 1816, Childe Harold III is published.
1817 In England, Claire Claremont gives birth to Allegra, January 12th.
Byron finishes Manfred, after study at the Armenian monastery of San Lazzaro.
His liaison with Marianna Segati has begun.
From April 17th to May 28th, he travels via Florence to Rome, where he revises Manfred’s third act under advice from William Gifford.
He starts Childe Harold IV.
In June he leases the Villa Foscarini on the Brenta.
On June 16th, Manfred is published.
In October, as he is finishing Childe Harold IV, he reads Whistlecraft, a mock-epic in ottava rima by John Hookham Frere: and writes Beppo in two nights by way of imitation.
On December 10th, he hears that Newstead Abbey has at last been sold, to Colonel Thomas Wildman, for £94,554 3s 1d; his years of financial insecurity are at last over.
1818 Beppo is published anonymously on February 28th, and Childe Harold IV (with Byron’s name), on April 28th.
Byron’s liaison with Marianna Segati ends, and he embarks upon a period of total debauchery, encouraged by the Venetian way of life.
He leases the Palazzo Mocenigo on the Grand Canal.
In June he wins a swimming race the length of the Grand Canal.
Margarita Cogni becomes his mistress and housekeeper, cutting the household expenses by half.
He writes Mazeppa, and begins Don Juan I, which he finishes on September 19th.
He writes his Memoirs.
On November 11th, John Hanson, his lawyer, arrives in Venice with the papers for the sale of Newstead.
Byron hears that Robert Southey, whom he despises already on political grounds, has been spreading rumours about his sex-life in Switzerland, and he composes the Dedication to Don Juan I, attacking Southey.
He starts Don Juan II.
1819 Byron’s English associates advise against publishing Don Juan I, because of its portrait of Annabella in Donna Inez.
On the night of April 1st/2nd, the day on which he sends Don Juan II to John Murray, Byron meets and falls in love with Teresa Guiccioli.
He follows her to Ravenna.
Mazeppa is published on June 28th, and Don Juan I and II (anonymously and with no publisher’s name) on July 15th.
Teresa comes with him to Venice, then returns to Ravenna with her husband.
On December 24th, Byron arrives in Ravenna.
Don Juan III and IV are written.
1820 In February, Byron moves into the Palazzo Guiccioli.
He translates Canto I of Pulci’s Morgante Maggiore, and writes The Prophecy of Dante.
Flattered by Alessandro Guiccioli’s comparison between himself and Alfieri, he writes Marino Faliero, the first of his three classical tragedies.
In July, Teresa is granted a papal decree of separation, and moves into her father’s house at Filetto.
Byron sends his Memoirs to Moore.
On December 9th, the military commandant of Ravenna is shot in the street outside the Palazzo Guiccioli, and Byron puts the event into Don Juan V.
1821 Byron is in Ravenna until October.
He writes his Ravenna Journal, and Sardanapalus.
The Neapolitan insurrection fails, and ends his hopes for the liberation of Italy from the Austrians.
Teresa’s father and brother are banished from Papal territory, but Byron stays in Ravenna.
He starts The Vision of Judgement (his travesty of Southey’s A Vision of Judgement) on May 27th, leaves it to write The Two Foscari and Cain, and then finishes it, September 20th–October 4th.
He also writes The Blues and Heaven and Earth.
On October 29th he moves to Pisa to rejoin Teresa’s family, and Shelley’s circle of friends.
Sardanapalus, Cain, and The Two Foscari are published on December 19th.
He starts Werner.
Meanwhile, the Greek War of Independence has begun.
1822 Byron lives at the Casa Lanfranchi, on the Lung’Arno at Pisa.
He finishes Werner, and begins the incomplete Deformed Transformed.
Thomas Medwin makes a record of his conversations.
On January 28th, Lady Noel, Annabella’s mother-in-law, dies. Byron, who has been looking forward to this moment, takes the name of Noel Byron – which gives him the same initials as Napoleon Bonaparte.
On March 24th, Sergeant-Major Masi is pitchforked by one of Byron’s servants after he has provoked an affray at the city gate.
On April 20th, Allegra dies in the convent at Bagnacavallo.
On July 1st, Leigh Hunt and his family arrive.
On July 8th, Shelley, Edward Williams and Charles Vivian drown.
Byron restarts Don Juan, having stopped writing it upon Teresa Guiccioli finding it objectionable.
The Vision of Judgement is published, in the first number of The Liberal, on October 15th, and Werner, the last of Byron’s works to be published by John Murray, on November 23rd.
Still at Pisa, Byron writes The Age of Bronze and The Island, which are published by John Hunt, as are Cantos VI-XVI of Don Juan.
Moves to Genoa via Lerici, September 27th 1822, arriving at Casa Saluzzo, Albaro, on about October 3rd.
1823 Lord and Lady Blessington, together with Count D’Orsay, visit, April 1st–June 2nd.
Byron is elected a member of the London Greek Committee, and agrees to go to Greece to investigate the situation there and to help negotiate the Greek loan.
He departs for Greece on July 16th, arriving in Cephalonia on August 3rd.
On August 11th he visits Ithaca.
He remains on Cephalonia until December 29th, when he sails for Messolonghi.
1824 As the London Greek Committee’s representative, he proceeds to Messolonghi.
After an adventurous sea journey, punctuated by the Turkish blockade and by storms, he comes ashore on January 5th.
Wearing full military uniform for the landing, he receives a hero’s welcome.
He puts himself at the head of 500 Suliote soldiers, whose expenses he pays, and prepares for his first military operation, the capture of Lepanto.
On January 22nd he writes On This Day I Complete My Thirty-Sixth Year.
On February 5th William Parry, the fire master, arrives in Messolonghi with his specialist mechanics, but the plan to attack Lepanto is eventually abandoned due to various setbacks, including impassable roads and the dissolution of the Suliote troops.
Byron remains occupied with administrative decision-making and is awaiting instructions from the Greek government.
Starting in February, his health gradually declines: on the 15th he has an epileptic fit.
Early in April, he goes for a ride in the rain, and collapses with a severe fever.
He dies on April 19th, 1824 (Greek Easter Monday).
By Peter Cochran and Maria Schoina