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Byron's Letters and Journals, Volume IV: ‘Wedlock’s the devil,’ 1814–1815

Byron's Letters and Journals, Volume IV: ‘Wedlock’s the devil,’ 1814–1815

George Gordon Byron

Edited by Leslie A. Marchand

ISBN 9780674089440

Publication date: 01/01/1975

George Gordon Byron was a superb letter-writer: almost all his letters, whatever the subject or whoever the recipient, are enlivened by his wit, his irony, his honesty, and the sharpness of his observation of people. They provide a vivid self-portrait of the man who, of all his contemporaries, seems to express attitudes and feelings most in tune with the twentieth century. In addition, they offer a mirror of his own time. This first collected edition of all Byron’s known letters supersedes Prothero’s incomplete edition at the turn of the century. It includes a considerable number of hitherto unpublished letters and the complete text of many that were bowdlerized by former editors for a variety of reasons. Prothero’s edition included 1,198 letters. This edition has more than 3,000, over 80 percent of them transcribed entirely from the original manuscripts.

In this volume, Byron corresponds with writers such as Thomas Moore, Coleridge, Leigh Hunt, and “Monk” Lewis; with John Murray about the publication of The Corsair, Lara, and The Hebrew Melodies; and with many personal friends. A new interest is his association with the Drury Lane Theater. The crucial events of his private life at this time are his engagement to Anabella Milbanke and their marriage early in 1815—a marriage that was to last little more than a year. Especially revelatory are his letters to his fiancée and those to his long-time confidante, Lady Melbourne.

Volume IV includes all the letters from the beginning of 1814 to the end of 1815.


  • The first two volumes of Leslie A. Marchand's Byron's Letters and Journals represent an outstanding achievement in humane editing, based on comprehensive and original research. This edition both recasts and synthesizes much earlier scholarship, with very substantial additions to the canon of published material. Marchand's editorial principles are admirable, his commentaries and annotations informative, graceful, and judicious. He has provided the ideal framework for Byron's vivid, witty, and candid letters, the fullest portrayal of Byron's complex nature.

    —Richard H. Fogle, Ralph F. Matlaw, Murk Schorer, and Geoffrey Hartman, in their citation for the James Russell Lowell Prize of the Modern Language Association


  • The late Leslie A. Marchand was Professor of English, Emeritus, Rutgers University. For his lifelong work on Byron, he was given the National Book Critics Circle's Ivan Sandrof Award.

Book Details

  • 378 pages
  • 5-3/4 x 8-1/2 inches
  • Belknap Press

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