Hugh Beavin

The poet Byron - mad, bad and dangerous to know

Scandal and accusations of outrageous behaviour followed the poet Lord Byron wherever he went and the ripples created by his reputation were even felt in the tiny village of Kirkby Mallory.

For it was in Kirkby Mallory Hall that his wife, the mathematician Annabella Milbanke, took refuge when her one-year old marriage to the great symbol of Romanticism and political liberalism collapsed at the beginning of 1816.

The hall was the home of her parents, who owned estates in the surrounding countryside, and it provided sanctuary for Annabella and her infant daughter Augusta Ada Byron.

Predictably, the breakdown was accompanied by yet more scandal and in the weeks that followed Annabella's mother, Lady Judith Noel, gathered all the evidence that she could of Byron's indiscretions with a view to a legal separation.

The separation eventually took place on 23rd April 1816 and guards were posted at the lodges at the entrance to the hall in case Byron tried to kidnap his daughter.

Far from travelling to Leicestershire, Byron left England altogether and wrote the poem "Fare Thee Well" as a parting gift to his wife.

He never returned to England, even though his mother-in-law left him an equal share in the Noel family's estates when she died in 1822.

Within two years Byron was also dead - a victim of a fever contracted in Greece after becoming embroiled in the Greek political struggle for independence.

Author: Hugh Beavin

Written for: Hinckley-on-line