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Lord Byron Trivia

Brain Snacks: Tasty Tidbits of Knowledge

Byron's birthplace at 16 Holles Street, London is now occupied by a branch of the English department store John Lewis.21

When he arrived at Cambridge in 1805, Byron insisted that his college dorm room be outfitted with glasses, decanters and four bottles each of wine, port, sherry and claret. He also brought his pet bulldog.22

Byron's guests at Newstead Abbey were offered drinks in goblets he'd had made out of skulls from the Byron family crypt.23

At the cremation of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Byron asked if he could keep Shelley's skull. Knowing Byron's predilection for skull mugs, Shelley's friend Edward John Trelawny refused.24

Byron's hedonistic lifestyle in Europe was not without consequences. By the time he was 21, he suffered from raging cases of gonorrhea and syphilis.25

Byron was bisexual and had male and female lovers. He thought that men were smarter but women kissed better.26

Think your ex is psycho? When Byron broke up with Lady Caroline Lamb, she staged a sort of pagan ritual in which hired young girls danced around a fire burning Byron's effigy, letters and gifts.27 She also claimed that if Byron ever married, she would buy a gun and shoot herself in front of the newlyweds.28 (Fortunately, she didn't go through with it.)

Byron always traveled with a bevy of animals. When he visited Byron in Venice, Percy Shelley recorded: "Lord B's establishment consists, besides servants, of ten horses, eight enormous dogs, three monkeys, five cats, an eagle, a crow and a falcon; and all these, except the horses, walk about the house which every now and then resounds with their unarbitrated quarrels as if they were masters of it. ... later I find that my enumeration of the animals in this Circean palace was defective, I have just met on the grand staircase five peacocks, two guinea hens and an Egyptian crane."29

Augusta Ada Byron King, Byron's only legitimate child, gained fame of her own as a mathematician who worked on one of the earliest precursors to the computer.30

During his summer with the Shelleys in 1816, Byron suggested the group pass a rainy afternoon by writing ghost stories. It turned out to be a momentous contest in the history of horror. Mary Shelley wrote the story that became Frankenstein, and Byron's doctor John William Polidori wrote "The Vampyre," the story that has inspired vampire depictions from Dracula to Twilight.31

A publisher accused of pirating Byron's Cain and Don Juan argued that the poems were so scandalous that they did not deserve the word "copyright."32

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