George Gordon, Lord Byron, could very well be the prototype for all those Regency Rakes and Rogues we so love in present day historical romance novels. He was certainly handsome, he was admittedly bi-sexual, he married and separated, he had a legitimate daughter, an illegitimate son and there was a question as to the paternity of his half sister’s son. He had many notorious affairs: Caroline Lamb and Mary Shelly’s sister, Claire were rumored to have succumbed to his charms.
The reality of Lord Byron differs from historical rakes of fiction in that those we love in fiction are usually reformed by the end of the story. They fall in love with the heroine who saves them from themselves and live to a ripe old age dangling their children on their knees. Byron was not reformed, although his wife made every effort. They were married only a year when they separated and she went to live with her parents taking their daughter with her. Byron was never again to see either of them. It is said that he suffered deep mood swings. He continued to live a dissipated lifestyle.
It is said that when he went to Switzerland with his young physician, John Polidori, they lived near Percy Bysshe Shelly, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly and her sister Claire Clairmont. They would spend three rainy days inventing and telling fantastic stories. The result of reading ghost stories and taking quantities of Laudanum, Mary Shelly wrote Frankenstein and the doctor wrote Vampyre which is said to be the first romantic vampire rendition.1 from Wikipedia, Lord Byron
Fictionalized accounts of Lord Byron as a vampire have appeared in Michael Thomas Ford’s witty book about vampire Jane Austen, Jane Bites Back, and Thomas Holland’s Vampyre. Yes, I can certainly see how Byron’s lifestyle would lend itself to romantic vampire fiction but not so much to the reformed rake of historical novels.
Previously blogged by Deet in May, 2011