Approaching the monumental figure in literature that is Lord Byron presents its own unique difficulties. For one thing, there is much written about the poet and man, but little that can be sourced. He seems to inspire ire or delight in commentators still to this day, although his actual contribution to literature is modest. Instead, Byron’s most enduring legacy is his attitude – that of a ‘mad, bad, and dangerous’ gigolo who does what he wants, when he wants, and doesn’t care if you or I approve.
Lord Byron was lucky enough to be the son of a very wealthy captain (‘Mad’ Captain Jack) who himself married for wealth several times. Byron was placed at the best schools, to inherit some of the largest estates in Scotland, and throughout his life relied on his marriages, scandalous love affairs and the patronage of friends to support his lifestyle. He was at many times through his short life, in crippling debt, or in dire straits of one sort or another. The fact that he always equipped himself with charm, wit, and not a small amount of arrogance seems to have cemented his reputation and created for Western Culture the ‘Byronic Hero’.
Byron was as iconoclastic as he could be, for his time – he supported the anti-authoritarian Luddite movement, he greatly admired the one-man geopolitical force that was Napoleon Bonaparte (a scandal, as Britain had been at war with the Tyrant for so long), as well as joyfully breaking every religious, sexual, or civil taboo that he could.
His works are interesting in a multitude of ways. They display a connection to the movement of his day (that he helped to found) of Romanticism. They share links with Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley, Thomas Moore and many others. However, they are also interesting in the fact that they present his anarchism through verse, and through the fact that they are so readily available!
It is possible to purchase a first edition Don Juan 1819 by Thomas Davieson publishers, London, for as little as just seven hundred US dollars, for example (Cantos 1 & 2)! To buy one in good to near mint condition, the price would in that case be nearer to a thousand US dollars. Even though this may be a lot, consider that these are only one of 1500 copies, they must surely have passed through Lord Byron’s own hand. Remarkable for such a price and prestige!
Byron, George Gordon. Hours of Idleness. S. and J. Ridge, Newark (1807). A Series Of Poems Original And Translated; Byrons First Regularly Published Book, Preceded By Some Juvenilia; First Issue, With The Repetition Of Where (P. 5:2-3) Misprints Thnnder (114:4) And Thc (181:1) Page 171 Numbered Correctly, And With The 1806 Watermark On The Cancel Leaf 22-23.
Byron, George Gordon. Poems. S and J Ridge, Newark (1808). Original And Translated; Engraved Frontispiece, Bound By Riviere
Byron, George Gordon. English Bards and Scotch Reviewers. James Cawthorn (1810). A Satire; Copies Of The First Edition Were Printed On Paper With An E And P 1805 Watermark.
Byron, George Gordon. The Giaour. T. Davison (1813). A Fragment Of A Turkish Tale; Copies Of The First Edition Were Printed On Paper With An E And P 1805 Watermark; Fore-Edge Painting And 11 Works, Including Five Firsts, By Byron 11; Only 12 Copies Of The First Issue Wre Produced.
Byron, George Gordon. Lara. John Murray (1814). Jacqueline, A Tale By Samuel Rogers; 6092 Copies; Erste Separatausgabe
Byron, George Gordon. The Corsair. Thomas Davison (1814). With The Giaour: A Fragment Of A Turkish Tale: The Bride Of Abydos: A Turkish Tale: And Lara: A Tale / By Lord Byron; The Corsair Sold An Unprecedented 10,000 Copies Almost Immediately Upon Publication.
Byron, George Gordon. Hebrew Melodies. T. and J. Swords (1815). 13 Volumes; First Issue Has Verso Of E4 An Advertisement For Rogers Jacqueline Followed By A Six Line Advertisement For Campbells Selected Beauties Of English Poetry, Noted As In The Press; Features Several Significant Poems On Scriptural Subjects Including King David And Saul, On The Day Of The Destruction Of Jerusalem By Titus, And The Oft-Anthologized The Destruction Of Sennacherib.
Byron, George Gordon. The Works. John Murray (1815). Of The Right Honourable Lord Byron; 5 Volumes; Illustrations By Thomas Stothard, Engraved By F.Engleheart; First Volume Contains The First 2 Cantos Of Childe Harolds Pilgrimage, A Romaunt, And Other Poems; The Second Volume Contains: The Giaour, The Bride Of Abydos, The Corsair, Lara, Hebrew Melodies.
Byron, George Gordon. The Prisoner of Chillon. John Murray (1816). Other Poems Including Churchills Grave, The Dream And Prometheus; 3 Volumes; First Edition, First Issue Has Adverts Starting On The Verso Of E8.
Byron, George Gordon. The Siege of Corinth. John Murray (1816). Parsina, A Poem; Two Poems: The Siege Of Corinth, A Tale Of Conflict Between Christians And Muslims, And Parisina.
Byron, George Gordon. Manfred. John Murray (1817). A Dramatic Poem; 3D Issue.
Byron, George Gordon. Childe Harolds Pilgrimage. John Murray, 1818. First edition. (1818). A Romaunt: (Canto The First, Canto The Second, Canto The Third And Canto The Fourth); 3 Volumes; First Issue Of The Concluding Cant, With An Introductory Letter Of Byron; Plus Two Of Byrons Translations (Of A Spanish Ballad And A Sonnet By Vittorelli); A Page Of Advertisements For Byrons Works; The Second Page Is An Advertisement For Hakewills Views In Italy; 10,000 First Edition Copies (Includes All Five Issues Of The First Edition).
Byron, George Gordon. The Works of the Right Hon. John Murray (1818). 6 Volumes; Includes: Childe Harolds Pilgrimage, A Romaunt : And Other Poems (Cantos I And Ii, 1815, 10Th Edition); Childe Harolds Pilgrimage (Cantos Iii And Iv, 1816); The Giaour, A Fragment Of A Turkish Tale (1815, 13Th Edition); The Bride Of Abydos, A Turkish Tale (1814, 10Th Edition); The Corsair, A Tale (1815, 8Th Edition); Lara, A Tale (1814, 4Th Edition); The Siege Of Corinth And Parisina (1816, 3Rd Edition); The Prisoner Of Chillon, And Other Poems (1816); Ode To Napoleon Buonaparte (1814, 10Th Edition); Hebrew Melodies (1815); Poems (1816); Monody On The Death Of The Right Honourable R. B. Sheridan, Spoken At Drury Lane Theatre (1817); The Lament Of Tasso (1818, 6Th Edition); And Beppo, A Venetian Story (1818, 6Th Edition).
Byron, George Gordon. Don Juan. Thomas Davison (1819). The First Issue (Shakespeare For Shakespeare On The Title Pages Of Several Of The Volumes);16 Cantos Bound In Seven Volumes.
Byron, George Gordon. MAZEPPA. Thomas Davison (1819). Second Issue Has The Imprint Of The Printer On The Verso Of P. 71, Not P. 70; 8000 Copies
Byron, George Gordon. Don Juan. Thomas Davison (1820). Cantos 1 To 5.
Byron, George Gordon. HOURS OF IDLENESS. For Sherwin and Co (1820). A Series Of Poems Original And Translated, By Lord Byron;
Byron, George Gordon. THE WORKS OF THE RIGHT HONOURABLE LORD BYRON. Published by M. Thomas, Philadelphia (1820). Containing English Bards, And Scotch Reviewers; The Curse Of Minerva; And The Waltz, An Apostrophic Hymn; Illustrated With A Frontispiece Portrait Of Lord Byron Engraved By Kennerley After A Painting By Harding.
Byron, George Gordon Noel. Marino Faliero, Doge of Venice. John Murray (1821). An Historical Tragedy. The Prophecy Of Dante, A Poem.
Byron George Gordon Noel, Lord. Sardanapalus. John Murray (1821). A Tragedy The Two Foscari, A Tragedy. Cain, A Mystery; First Issue With B1 Reading ‘Sardanapalus.
Byron, George Gordon, Lord. Don Juan. John Hunt (1823). Cantos 6-8 Vi Vii and Viii
Byron, George Gordon, Lord. THE ISLAND. John Hunt (1823). Or Christian And His Comrades.
Byron, George Gordon Noel, Lord. Werner. John Murray (1823). A Tragedy; First Edition, Second Issue, With Imprint At Foot Of P. 188.
Byron, Lord George. DON JUAN. Thomas Davison (1824). Cantos 1 - 16.
Byron, Lord George. Journal of the conversations of Lord Byron. Wilder and Campbell (1824). Medwin, Thomas; Noted During A Residence With His Lordship At Pisa, In The Years 1821 And 1822; By Thoms Medwin, Esq.
Byron, George Gordon, Lord. THE WORKS. A. AND W. GALIGNANI (1828). The Works Of Lord Byron Including His Suppressed Poems Complete In One Volume; With A Life By J. W. Lake.
Byron, George Gordon, Lord. Letters and Journals of Lord Byron. Published by A. and W. Galignani (1830). Moore, Thomas, Editor And Compiler;With Notices Of His Life; The Manuscripts Are Notes By Samuel Rogers, Caroline Lamb, Lady Noel Byron (Byrons Mother) And William Byron (1669-1736), The Fourth Baron Byron; 2 Vols
Byron, George Gordon. The Works of Lord Byron. John Murray (1833). With His Letters And Journals, And His Life, By Thomas Moore; Total 17 Volumes; Fourteen Volumes - Volume 7: Hours Of Idleness, A Series Of Poems, Original And Translated; Occasional Pieces, Written In 1807-8; English Bards And Scotch Reviewers; Occasional Pieces, Written In 1808-10 - Volume 9: Occasional Pieces, Written In 1811-13; Hits From Horace; The Curse Of Minerva; The Waltz; The Giaour; The Bride Of Abydos; The Corsair - Volume 10: Ode To Napoleon Buonaparte; Lara; Hebrew Melodies; The Siege Of Corinth; Parisina; Domestic Pieces, 1816; Monody On The Death Of The Right Hon. R. B. Sheridan; The Prisoner Of Chillon; The Dream; Occasional Pieces, Written In 1814-16 - Volume 11: Manfred; The Lament Of Tasso; Beppo; Mazeppa; Ode On Venice; The Morgante Maggiore Of Pulci; The Prophecy Of Dante; Occasional Pieces - Volume 12: Francesca Of Rimini; Stanzas To The Po; Stanzas, Written On The Road Between Florence And Pisa; The Blues; Marino Faliero, Doge Of Venice; The Vision Of Judgement; Occasional Pieces - Volume 13: Heaven And Earth; Sardanapalus; The Two Foscari; The Deformed Transformed - Volume 14: Cain, A Mystery; Werner, Or The Inheritance; The Age Of Bronze; Stanzas To A Hindoo Air; Lines.
Byron, George Gordon. The Poetical Works of Lord Byron. John Murray (1855). Life Of Lord Byron: With His Letters And Journals; Illustrative Notes By Thomas Moore, Professor Wilson, Lord Jeffrey, J G Lockhart, Sir Walter Scott, George Ellis, Bishop Heber, Thomas Campbell, Samuel Rogers, Rev. H H Milman; 16 Volumes Set
Byron, George Gordon. The Prisoner of Chillon. Day and Son Ltd. (1865). Illuminated By W. and G. Audsley; Chromolithographed By W. R. Tymms; Each Of The 20 Leaves Is Printed In Full Colour Chromolithography On The Rectos Only And 17 Leaves Of Illuminated Text Within Highly Decorative Borders, Printed In Full Colour And Heightened In Gold And Silver.
Byron, George Gordon. The poetical works. John Murray (1879). Collected And Arranged With Notes By Sir Walter Scott, Lord Jeffery; Collected And Arranged, With Notes And Illustrations ; Moore, Thomas, Editor; 6 Volumes.
Byron, George Gordon. The Poems and Dramas of Lord Byron. T. Y. Crowell (1884). And Thomas Moore'S Poetical Works; 2 Volumes
Byron, George Gordon. Fugitive Pieces. Chiswick Press (1886). A Facsimile Reprint Of The Suppressed Edition Of 1806; Limited Edition 100 Copies.
Byron, George Gordon. The Works of Lord Byron. John Murray (1904). 13 Volumes Complete; 7 Volumes Edited By Ernest Hartley Coleridge And Letters And Journals In Six Volumes Edited By Rowland E. Prothero.