Byron's Letters and Journals
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 It includes a considerable number of hitherto unpublished letters and the complete text of many that were bowdlerized by former editors for a variety of reasons.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.
Below is a list of in-print works in this collection, presented in series order or publication order as applicable.
Byron's Letters and Journals, Volume I: ‘In my hot youth,’ 1798–1810
Byron's Letters and Journals, Volume II: ‘Famous in my time,’ 1810–1812
The second volume of Byron’s letters embraces his second year in Greece, his revealing accounts to Hobhouse and others of his life in Athens, his visit to Veli Pasha, and his return by Malta to England. It covers the period of the loss of his mother and of several of his closest friends, of his first acquaintance with Moore and Rogers, his maiden speech in the House of Lords, the publication of Childe Harold, and the resulting fame that brought him into Whig society. It marks the beginning of his correspondence with Lady Melbourne, who became the confidante of his liaisons with Lady Caroline Lamb and Lady Oxford, and who forwarded his first (rejected) proposal to Annabella Milbanke.
Byron's Letters and Journals, Volume III: ‘Alas! the love of women,’ 1813–1814
The third volume starts with Byron at the first crest of his fame following the publication of Childe Harold. It includes his literary letters to Tom Moore, frank and intimate ones to Hobhouse, pungent ones to Hanson and Murray, and his lively and amusing missives to Lady Melbourne, his confidante through all his love affairs.
Byron's Letters and Journals, Volume IV: ‘Wedlock’s the devil,’ 1814–1815
Byron's Letters and Journals, Volume V: ‘So late into the night,’ 1816–1817
Byron's Letters and Journals, Volume VI: ‘The flesh is frail,’ 1818–1819
Byron's Letters and Journals, Volume VII: ‘Between two worlds,’ 1820
Byron's Letters and Journals, Volume VIII: ‘Born for opposition,’ 1821
Byron's Letters and Journals, Volume IX: ‘In the wind’s eye,’ 1821–1822
Byron's Letters and Journals, Volume X: ‘A heart for every fate,’ 1822–1823
Byron’s brilliant epistolary saga approaches its end in this last full volume of his letters, from early October 1822 to his fateful departure for Greece in July 1823. During these months he was living in Genoa, with Teresa and her father and brother occupying an apartment in his house. Mary Shelley was staying with the Hunts in a house some distance away. Byron enlarged his circle of English acquaintances, but his liveliest correspondence was still with John Murray, Kinnaird, Hobhouse, and Moore. Of special interest are his frank letters, half flirtatious, to Lady Hardy, those to Trelawny and Mary Shelley, and a growing number to Leigh Hunt and his brother John (publisher of The Liberal and of Byron’s poems after his break with Murray), discussing inter alia his thoughts about the continuation of Don Juan. From April on, the letters are full of concern for support of the Greek forces and preparations for his departure.
Byron's Letters and Journals, Volume XI: ‘For freedom’s battle,’ 1823–1824
Byron's Letters and Journals, Volume XII: ‘The trouble of an index,’ Index