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Lord Byron was a poet, a passionate lover, a wandering traveler, and the greatest contrarian of the 19th Century.
He spent most of his life traveling abroad with a thirst for adventure, becoming one of the most well-known figures of his time. Through it all, he left us writings filled with wry, humorous, and surprisingly poignant musings on life and love.
Born in 1788 and dying at a mere 36 years old in 1824, Byron filled his life with as much experience as possible, traveling as far as he could from his home in England to find new inspirations, from the gorgeous architecture of Venice to the war-torn shores of the Greek islands.
In each new place, he fell in love with new cultures and the intriguing women he met. He funneled these experiences into the large body of literature and letters that he left behind after his intense and adventurous life.
Early in his life, Byron achieved great fame through his literary works, starting with Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage at age 24.
This enormous epic poem details the world-weary journeys of a young aristocrat who seeks to find a new life by traveling to far-off lands – in other words, a fictional version of his own life.
This work (and the many that followed it) helped to mythologize Lord Byron’s own rock-star life in the minds of the people who read it. Soon, Byron was as famous (or infamous) as Napoleon, the famed French leader whom he idolized.
At every step, Lord Byron kept a healthy attitude of self-deprecation and a sense of humor about his own fame and the world’s obsession with it.
Lord Byron Quotes on Fame
In this time of constant social media and the pressure to seek fame at every level, it is comforting to listen to the wisdom of a man who was thrust into fame 200 years ago and learned the pain that can come with it.
These Lord Byron quotes show that life in the public eye is not always all it’s cracked up to be! It can be a double-edged sword that brings both the scrutiny of faceless masses and a platform to influence them.
Lord Byron Quotes on Solitude
Recognized wherever he went in England, Lord Byron often sought to be alone more than anything. Besides requiring peace and quiet to write, Byron also had good reason to escape from society: his debts!
Lord Byron was a profligate spender, often racking up debts far beyond even his ability to pay.
He could not resist the indulgences that he associated with wealthy living, even going so far as to have a handcrafted replica of Napoleon Bonaparte’s massive horse-drawn carriage made for him to ride around in.
If he were alive today, Lord Byron would have all the fanciest credit cards, but they would all be maxed out.
Still, solitude can be the best way to cleanse the mind and clear the brain. Byron sought solitude both in nature and in his travels, finding the best place for him to achieve peace and clarity.
This is something we can all try to emulate, even if we shouldn’t emulate his excessive spending.
Lord Byron Quotes on Passion and Feeling
Feelings, whether painful or pleasurable, were a theme of Byron’s life. He wrote at length of the power and pain of feeling and thinking.
His epic poem Don Juan, though satirical, emphasizes the frequent woes and sorrows of a man who loves too often (and is often not loved back).
These quotes express the feelings and passions that come with the experience of a life led openly, and they ring just as true now as when they were written 200 years ago.
Profound Insights on People
Byron was a keen observer of people’s behaviors and true intentions. He frequently criticized the cravenness of his doctor and long-time hanger-on John Polidori in front of other people.
Though some were unappreciative of his observations, Byron was an insightful judge of character.
He did not spare himself from his own insights, and often made note of his own failings along with those of other people. It appears that human nature does not change, because these quotes about the nature of people are still relevant for us today.
Byron on the Joys of Indulgence
Among Lord Byron’s chiefest pleasures was drinking—something he shared with his traveling partners Percy and Mary Shelley.
On cold and stormy nights in Villa Diodati near Lake Geneva, Switzerland, the three friends would gather by the fire and read ghost stories during their stay in 1816.
A glass of wine or a fine spirit would warm them up almost as much as their growing friendship; sometimes a good drink shared with good company can be a real pleasure (in moderation, of course).
Musings on the Nature of Life
Byron also had deep insight into life, religion, and honor. Though he liked to present an image of a care-free aristocrat, he spent the last years of his life fighting in the seemingly hopeless Greek war for independence.
The enigmatic lord is still celebrated in some parts of Greece for his bravery in coming to the aid of the small nation as it fought against the powerful Ottoman Empire for its independence.
Statues of Byron still pepper the country, bearing witness to the fact that Byron was much more committed to his ideals than his celebrity reputation would imply.
His life ended after an illness contracted during the long war, but his devotion and insights indicate that his wisdom was far beyond the 36 years he had lived.
Lord Byron’s views on life can really bring some perspective into our own lives.
Byron’s Views on Love
Perhaps more than his literature, Lord Byron is remembered for his wild life and his many loves.
Among his famed lovers were Lady Caroline Lamb, who dressed as a page boy to get his attention at a party but soon found herself out of his favor.
Byron’s wife, Anne Isabella Milbanke, was a poor match for his capricious and idiosyncratic ways; she was exceedingly conservative in outlook and did not approve of his outlandish lifestyle.
After only a little over a year of marriage, she separated from him and attempted to have him declared insane. The one positive outcome of their marriage was their child, Ada Lovelace, who would go on to be a a mathematician far ahead of her time, writing the world’s first algorithm intended for a computer.
Claire Clairmont, stepsister of Mary Shelley, had a brief affair with Byron that nonetheless affected her deeply. To him, it was a short and fiery time that spiced up some of his European travels; to her, it was love. She doggedly pursued him, especially after bearing his second child, Allegra. Byron could not stand the presence of Claire, but fought hard to win custody of his illegitimate daughter, who died at the age of 6 in a convent school.
Perhaps his most infamous love is his most unsubstantiated one– according to Anna Milbanke, Lord Byron was lover to his own half-sister, Augusta Leigh Byron. Though there is doubt that their relationship was sexual (since that rumor was spread by his ex), he certainly loved Augusta with an intense brotherly affection.
Lord Byron broke hearts, wrote love poems, and ruminated on the meaning of love in our lives when his own heart was broken. His views on Love, from romantic love to the love of a pet for its owner, can warm our hearts even today.
Let us know which Lord Byron quote you liked best or comment with your own. Stay inspired, and do all else in moderation, just like Byron did!
Updated September 5th, 2020.