Lord Byron remembered, 200 years on

Thursday, 18th April 2024

Lord Byron memorial with floral wreath of red and white roses

A wreath was laid at the Abbey's memorial to Lord Byron on Thursday 18th April, the eve of the 200th anniversary of the poet's death.

Born in London in 1788, George, 6th Baron Byron, became one of the most celebrated poets of the Romantic movement. After the success of his early works, he recalled, 'I awoke one morning and found myself famous.'

Alongside his literary achievements, he became known for his turbulent personal life, with Lady Caroline Lamb famously calling him 'mad, bad and dangerous to know.'

When his marriage to Annabella Milbanke failed in 1816, he left England never to return. In 1823 he joined Greek insurgents fighting for independence from the Ottoman Empire, but died of a fever in Missolonghi in April 1826, aged just 36.

His scandalous reputation meant that burial in the Abbey was refused, and it wasn't until 1969 that a memorial stone was dedicated in his memory in Poets' Corner.

About the service

Thursday's service was conducted by the Very Reverend Dr Jane Hedges, who welcomed the congregation to the Abbey and led the prayers.

Bernard Beatty, editor of the Byron Journal, gave the address, and the flowers were laid on the memorial stone by the Earl of Lytton, a descendent of Lord Byron.

The service included a celebration of Byron's works, with readings given by:

  • Robin, 13th Lord Byron, who read from his ancestor's 1816 poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage
  • Dr Christine Kenyon Jones, committee member of the Byron Society, who read from Don Juan
  • Dr Emily Paterson-Morgan, director of the Byron Society, who read a lyric sent by Byron to Thomas More in 1817
  • The Earl of Lytton, who read On this day I complete my thirty sixth year

Further reading