Two hundred and thirty three years ago - Lord Byron made his appearance and even though he shuffled off this mortal planet in 1824 - I still intend to enjoy a large slice or three of delicious cake in his honour!
On this very day in 1811, our Poet was firing off a letter to his close friend John Cam Hobhouse as he languished inside his crumbling ancestral seat at Newstead Abbey – home to the notorious and profligate Byron family since the Reformation and which lies in the heart of Sherwood Forest in Nottingham. Some years later and with my own life having undergone a recent and dramatic change, I returned to Newstead Abbey on a beautiful September afternoon - albeit with less despondency...
"I was married however on the 12th or 13th May (I don’t know which..."
It is interesting that Byron’s mother should have been unsure as to the precise date of her fated marriage to John Byron in the year 1785.
With her Scottish ancestry for omens and superstition perhaps Catherine’s confusion is understandable for she did indeed marry ‘Mad Jack’ Byron on Friday May 13 and by all accounts their brief marriage was a disaster...
In the hagiography which often passes for the writing of Byron's life, Catherine Gordon Byron is somewhat of a Marmite figure for you will either love her or you hate her!
However, my hatred of Marmite is equal to the fondness that I have for the story of this most 'Amiable Mamma' who Byron described as 'A tender and peremptory parent who indulged me sometimes with holidays and now and then with a box on the ear.'
Throughout his short life and in the years that have followed Byron was always considered to be a wonderful mass of contradictions and one with peculiar regularity can still arouse fury, passion, loyalty and debate; however, Byron would only think of himself as le diable boiteux - the lame devil.
He was born on this day in 1788 with a malformation of his right leg and foot which he believed to be the worst catastrophe of his entire life and as Byron still remains a figure of intrigue, it is perhaps not altogether surprising that the nature of his deformed limb should also provoke controversy!
Despite Byron's enduring fame, the circumstances of his birth were far from auspicious for he was born on Tuesday January 22 1788 in a rented apartment on the first floor above a shop in Holles Street in Cavendish Square London to Catherine Gordon Byron, who as a lone young mother had no family nearby for emotional and financial support....