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 It includes a considerable number of hitherto unpublished letters and the complete text of many that were bowdlerized by former editors for a variety of reasons.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.