Lord Byron in popular culture

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English writer Lord Byron has been mentioned in numerous media. A few examples of his appearances in literature, film, music, television and theatre are listed below.

Literature[edit]

Byron first appeared as a thinly disguised character in Glenarvon, by his former lover Lady Caroline Lamb, published in 1816.[1] (It was her summary of him, "mad, bad, and dangerous to know", that is perhaps still the most quoted.)

The Spanish poet Gaspar Núñez de Arce wrote Última lamentación de Lord Byron (The last lamentation of Lord Byron), a long soliloquy on the miseries of the world, the existence of a superior, omnipotent being, politics, etc.[2]

Poetry[edit]

Lawrence Durrell wrote a poem called Byron as a lyrical soliloquy; it was first published in 1944.

Susanna Roxman's Allegra in her 1996 collection Broken Angels (Dionysia Press, Edinburgh) is a poem about Byron's daughter by Claire Clairmont. In this text, Byron is referred to as "Papa".

Vampire figures[edit]

The archetypal vampire character, notably Bram Stoker's Dracula, is based on Byron. The gothic ideal of a decadent, pale and aristocratic individual who enamors himself to whomever he meets, but who is perceived to have a dark and dangerous inner self, is a literary archetype derived from characterisations of Byron. The image of a vampire portrayed as an aristocrat was created by John William Polidori in The Vampyre, during the summer of 1816 which he spent in the company of Byron. The titled Count Dracula is a reprise of this character.[citation needed]

Tom Holland, in his 1995 novel The Vampyre: Being the True Pilgrimage of George Gordon, Sixth Lord Byron, romantically describes how Lord Byron became a vampire during his first visit to Greece — a fictional transformation that explains much of his subsequent behaviour towards family and friends, and finds support in quotes from Byron poems and the diaries of John Cam Hobhouse. It is written as though Byron is retelling part of his life to his great great-great-great-granddaughter. He describes travelling in Greece, Italy, Switzerland, meeting Percy Bysshe Shelley, Shelley's death, and many other events in life around that time. Byron as vampire character returns in the 1996 sequel Supping with Panthers.

Byron is depicted as the villain/antagonist in the novel Jane Bites Back (2009) [3] written by Michael Thomas Ford, published by Ballantine Books. A novel based on the premise that Jane Austen and Lord Byron are vampires living in the modern day literary world.

Dan Chapman's 2010 vampire novella The Postmodern Malady of Dr. Peter Hudson begins at the time of Lord Byron's death and uses biographical information about him in the construction of its title character. It also directly quotes some of his work.[4]

Lost manuscripts[edit]

John Crowley's book Lord Byron's Novel: The Evening Land (2005) involves the rediscovery of a lost manuscript by Lord Byron, as do Frederic Prokosch's The Missolonghi Manuscript (1968), The Secret Memoir of Lord Byron by Christopher Nicole (1979) and Robert Nye's Memoirs of Lord Byron (1989). The Black Drama by Manly Wade Wellman,[5] originally published in Weird Tales, involves the rediscovery and production of a lost play by Byron (from which Polidori's The Vampyre was plagiarised) by a man who purports to be a descendant of the poet.

Alternate histories[edit]

He makes an appearance in the alternative history novel The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. In a Britain powered by the massive, steam-driven, mechanical computers invented by Charles Babbage, he is leader of the Industrial Radical Party, eventually becoming Prime Minister. Byron's spirit is one of the title characters of the Ghosts of Albion books by Amber Benson and Christopher Golden. Byron appears as a character in Tim Powers's time travel/alternative history novels The Stress of Her Regard (1989) and The Anubis Gates (1983), Walter Jon Williams's fantasy novella Wall, Stone Craft (1994).

Byron is resurrected as a computer program in Amanda Prantera's 1987 novel Conversations with Lord Byron on Perversion, 163 Years After His Lordship's Death.

Byron is portrayed as an immortal in the book, Divine Fire, by Melanie Jackson.

In the comic thriller, Edward Trencom's Nose by Giles Milton, several of Edward's ancestors are poisoned, along with Byron.

In the novel The History of Lucy's Love Life in Ten and a Half Chapters, Lucy Lyons uses a time machine to visit 1813 and meet her idol, Byron.

He appears in a parallel story line in the novel The Fire by Katherine Neville.

Byron is also a minor character in the ninth novel of L.A. Meyer's Bloody Jack series The Mark of the Golden Dragon.

In the short story "The Writer's Child" by Tad Williams—collected in the anthology The Sandman: Book of Dreams edited by Neil Gaiman and Ed Kramer—Byron is depicted as reincarnated as a child's teddy bear. Described as "clubfoot" for having one leg shorter than the other, and called separately, "young lord" and simply "Byron", it is not till late in the story that he's revealed to be paying penalty for some kind of crime involving a woman named, "Ogusta".

He appears as a character in Susanna Clarke's 2004 novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.[6]

Novelist Benjamin Markovits produced a trilogy about the life of Byron. Imposture (2007) looked at the poet from the point of view of his friend and doctor, John Polidori. A Quiet Adjustment (2008), is an account of Byron's marriage that is more sympathetic to his wife, Annabella. Childish Loves (2011) is a reimagining of Byron's lost memoirs, dealing with questions about his childhood and sexual awakening.

Stephanie Barron's series of Jane Austen Mysteries has Lord Byron a suspect of murder in the 2010 book, Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron.

Byron is one of the main characters in David Liss's 2011 novel The Twelfth Enchantment.

Byron is a character in T. Zachary Cotler's literary novel Ghost at the Loom (2014).

Byron is a character in Óscar Esquivias's short story Leche (Milk, 2016).[7]

In the comic book series The Wicked + The Divine, Byron appears as a reincarnation of the God Lucifer in a special issue set in the 1830s.

Film[edit]

Byron was portrayed by George Beranger in Beau Brummel (1924).

The brief prologue to Bride of Frankenstein includes Gavin Gordon as Byron, begging Mary Shelley to tell the rest of her Frankenstein story.

Byron, Percy and Mary Shelley are portrayed in Roger Corman's final film Frankenstein Unbound, where the time traveller Dr. Buchanan (played by John Hurt) meets them as well as Victor von Frankenstein (played by Raúl Juliá).

The events featuring the Shelleys' and Byron's relationship at the house beside Lake Geneva in 1816 have been fictionalised in film at least three times.

  1. A 1986 British production, Gothic, directed by Ken Russell and starring Gabriel Byrne as Byron.
  2. A 1988 Spanish production, Rowing with the wind aka (Remando al viento), directed by Gonzalo Suárez and starring Hugh Grant as Byron.[8]
  3. A 1988 U.S.A. production Haunted Summer. Adapted by Lewis John Carlino from the speculative novel by Anne Edwards, starring Philip Anglim as Lord Byron.
  4. A 2017 U.K. production Mary Shelley directed by Haifaa al-Mansour featuring Tom Sturridge as Byron.

Byron was mentioned by Sir Humphrey Pengallan (played by Charles Laughton) in Jamaica Inn (1939).

The Bad Lord Byron (1949) starred Dennis Price as the poet in a sanitised biopic of his life.

Byron was portrayed Noel Willman in Beau Brummell (1954).

Byron's affair with Lady Caroline Lamb features in the 1972 film Lady Caroline Lamb. Byron is played by Richard Chamberlain.[9][10]

Byron is the main character of the film Byron, balanta gia enan daimonismeno (Byron, Ballad for a possessed, 1992), by the Greek filmmaker Nikos Koundouros.[11]

Music[edit]

Perth rock band Eleventh He Reaches London are named in reference to the eleventh canto of Don Juan, in which Don Juan arrives in London. Their debut album, The Good Fight for Harmony also featured a track entitled "What Would Don Juan Do?"

Television[edit]

In the 3rd episode of the comedy series Fawlty Towers, The Wedding Party, a character refers to Lord Byron’s promiscuity: ‘I think, beneath that English exterior throbs a passion that would make Lord Byron look like a tobacconist.’[13]

Byron appears as an immortal, still living in modern times, in the television show Highlander: The Series in the fifth-season episode The Modern Prometheus, living as a decadent rock star.

Television portrayals include a 2003 BBC drama on Byron's life, an appearance in the 2006 BBC drama, Beau Brummell: This Charming Man, and minor appearances in Highlander: The Series (as well as the Shelleys), Blackadder the Third, episode 60 (Darkling) of Star Trek: Voyager, and was also parodied in the animated sketch series, Monkey Dust.

In the CBBC children's television show Horrible Histories and its reboot, Lord Byron was portrayed by Ben Willbond and Richard Atwill, as fat, sweating man who was conscious his appearance and his bizarre choice of animals whom he kept as pets.

Byron appears in the twelfth episode of the fourth season of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy as an ectoplasmic manifestation coming from the mouth of a main character, Billy, where Byron attempts to teach Billy how to be cool using poetry.

In the television series "White Collar," Season 3/Episode 12: "Upper West Side Story," actor Matt Bomer plays con-man/thief-turned-FBI consultant Neal Caffrey, working under cover as substitute English teacher Mr. Cooper. During a class, Mr. Cooper has the class close their books and then recites Lord Byron's poem, "She Walks In Beauty"...

Theatre[edit]

Byron was the subject of a 1908 play, Byron, by Alicia Ramsey, and its 1922 film adaptation A Prince of Lovers, in which he was played by Howard Gaye.

Tom Stoppard's play Arcadia revolves around a modern researcher's attempts to find out what made Byron leave the country, while Howard Brenton's play Bloody Poetry features Byron, in addition to Polidori, the Shelleys and Claire Clairmont.

Byron is depicted in Tennessee William's play Camino Real.

The play A Year Without A Summer by Brad C. Hodson is about Byron, Polidori, the Shelleys, and Claire Clairmont and the famous summer of 1816 at the Villa Diodati. As opposed to other works dealing with the same period, the play is more a biopic dealing with Byron's divorce and exile from England, than with the Shelleys' lives.

He appears as a drug induced apparition to his dying daughter, Ada, in Romulus Linney's two-act play Childe Byron, premiered in 1977 by the Virginia Museum Theater (now the Leslie Cheek Theater), with Jeremiah Sullivan as Byron and Marjorie Lerstrom as his daughter Ada, Countess Lovelace. The play was commissioned and directed by Keith Fowler.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bostridge, Mark (3 November 2002). "On the trail of the real Lord Byron". The Independent on Sunday. Retrieved 22 July 2008.
  2. ^ Núñez de Arce, Garpar (1879). Última lamentación de Lord Byron: un poema. Librería M. Murillo.
  3. ^ "Jane Bites Back". curledup.com. 2010. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  4. ^ Chapman, D. (2010), The Postmodern Malady ISBN 978-1477645062
  5. ^ Wellman, Manly Wade (December 2001) [1938]. Fearful Rock and Other Precarious Locales. 3. Night Shade Books. ISBN 978-1-892389-21-3.
  6. ^ Elaine Bander, "Miss J. Austen, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell", Persuasions On-line 29.1 (Winter 2008). Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  7. ^ Onieva, Francisco (27 October 2016). "Villa Diodati, doscientos años de mito e historia" (in Spanish). Baúl Mundo. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  8. ^ Remando al viento on IMDb
  9. ^ Lady Caroline Lamb on IMDb
  10. ^ The Films of Laurence Olivier, by Margaret Morley, Citadel, 1977, p 176
  11. ^ Byron, balanta gia enan daimonismeno on IMDb
  12. ^ http://www.lordbyron5.com
  13. ^ https://www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk/view_episode_scripts.php?tv-show=fawlty-towers&episode=s01e03