Talk:Lord Byron

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Former good article nomineeLord Byron was a good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There may be suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
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More please on that memorial prompted by Ripley caption (re section Post-Mortem)[edit]

Robert Ripley had drawn a picture of Boatswain's grave with the caption "Lord Byron's dog has a magnificent tomb while Lord Byron himself has none". This came as a shock to the English, particularly schoolchildren, who, Ripley said, raised funds of their own accord to provide the poet with a suitable memorial.

This could do with a year and a location of that memorial to Byron being stated. Ripley lived 1890-1949 and the caption was in a series of 'Believe It or Not' published in 1950. I am not sure if Ripley was unaware of the gravestone in Hucknall Church presented by the King of Greece, and the statue unveiled in 1880 in Hyde Park Corner, London, whose plinth was a gift of the Greek Government.Cloptonson (talk) 17:26, 15 May 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Laying in state"[edit]

In Britain, "lying in state" takes place only in Westminster Hall. A public viewing in any other location is "lying in repose." --Kent G. Budge (talk) 15:15, 6 June 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]


We say:

  • He obtained a Royal Warrant, allowing him to "take and use the surname of Noel only" and to "subscribe the said surname of Noel before all titles of honour".

From that point onwards it would seem that he was no longer George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, but George Gordon Noel, 6th Baron Byron.

Why is this not reflected in the lede and infobox? -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 03:02, 6 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Lord Byron's national identity[edit]

Lord Byron being described simply as "English" is not accurate but is rather a clumsy over-simplification of his complex national identity.

He himself identified as at least partly Scottish, saying he was "half a Scot by birth, and bred/A whole one". In this, he vocally identified as a Scot. He was educated for a time at Aberdeen Grammar School and reportedly had a Scottish accent (albeit a faint one) throughout his life.

The Gordons were of course a family with strong links to the north-east of Scotland (a branch of the Gordons held the Earldom of Huntly in north-east Scotland), and Byron corresponded with Aberdeenshire kin and relations all his life. He clearly had a Scottish component to his identity, as evidenced by his wearing tartan in his Greek campaign, visibly identifying with the (not that old) Scottish Highland martial tradition. He was also referred to by others as a Scot at the time, most famously by his lover Lady Caroline Lamb and by his first biographer Sir Cosmo Gordon.

Scotland was also the subject of many of his poems, most notably "Lachin Y. Gaer".

He was, at least partially, Scottish in his identity.

For more evidence, see: Murray Pittock, "Scotland: The Global History, 1603 to the Present" (2022). Scottymacd (talk) 16:23, 20 October 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

'Anglo-Scottish' is a rather tortured and convoluted when 'British' quite clearly covers both those bases. Not that the point isn't interesting or worthy of mention/clarifying. I suggest the material on his sympathies lying more with a Scottish identity than an English one, assuming it can be supported by reliable sources, be placed somewhere in the actual article itself. Iskandar323 (talk) 19:14, 20 October 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"British" is a loaded term, full of 20th century assumptions and connotations; the term "Anglo-Scottish" was carefully chosen as a consequence to reflect an early nineteenth century cultural reality, however tortured some people may find it.

I will update the article; notwithstanding a prevailing Anglocentric ignorance in some quarters, there is a wealth of reliable sources - however overlooked in English historiography - indicating Lord Byron had a very complex national identity. Scottymacd (talk) 07:29, 21 October 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

'British' is a less loaded term than 'Anglo-Scottish', pertaining as it simply does to a provenance in the British Isles rather than a specific 'national' narrative. Iskandar323 (talk) 10:12, 21 October 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Complicating things, regardless of his upbringing/identity, is his hereditary English peerage, as, regardless of anything else, he was an 'English' peer. Iskandar323 (talk) 10:32, 21 October 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"English Bards and Scottish Reviewers"? He evidently identified himself as English. Walrasiad (talk) 10:54, 21 October 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thank you for all your input. With regards to Lord Byron's title, it belongs to the Peerage of England because it was created (in the 17th century) before parliamentary union and so before the Peerage of Great Britain existed. Functionally, however, he sat in the House of Lords of the UK and does not appear (from what I can discern) to have had a strong engagement with the locality of his baronial title (Rochdale). As regards "English Bards and Scotch Reviewers", he was tongue-in-cheek contrasting his poetic works with the critical reviewers of the "Edinburgh Review", but a significant part of his poetry deals with Scotland. "Lachin Y Gaer" ("Lochnagar") is amongst his most famous poems and it demonstrates a connection with the north-east of Scotland (where he was educated between 1794 and 1798 and where his mother's family - the Gordons - hailed).

Thank you for your input, Iskandar323 and Walrasiad. It is clear that Byron - so complex in many ways - had a complex national identity. Indeed, that he was such a proactive internationalist is an important part of his character (and why he is still revered in Greece and Albania).

Because of his Scottish heritage - his mother's family and his lifelong interaction with them; his time at Aberdeen Grammar School; the fact he is known to have referred to himself as a Scot - it is not wholly accurate to term him "English". I concede "Anglo-Scottish" is clunky and so I fully agree with Iskandar323 that "British" is the most appropriate term. Scottymacd (talk) 16:57, 23 October 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I have to disagree. Identity is a slippery thing, yes, and he had a cosmopolitan outlook. But time and time again, Byron emphatically identified himself as English (when not pretending to be Italian). Throughout his poetry and his correspondence, he identified England as his home, and himself as English, indeed being a displaced or exiled "son of England" was a recurrent motif. He identified himself as English, and he was regarded as English in his time, both in Britain and in Europe. So I'd prefer to default to that. Any lingering Scottish connections can be dealt with in the main text, but it should not be in the lede as a matter of his main identity. As a matter of national identify, Byron was an English writer, not Anglo-Scottish, not British and not Italian.
As a person of multiple countries myself, I am a bit sensitive about who I claim to be. And should my Wiki biographers, a couple of centuries hence, decide to assign the place I lived in my youth (roughly the same timespan as Byron in Aberdeen) as my nationality, I would be very disappointed and regard it as ridiculous. Walrasiad (talk) 06:47, 24 October 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The point about Byron's schooling from the ages of 5?-10 is definitely the weakest piece of information as a potential predicator of national identity. Iskandar323 (talk) 08:13, 24 October 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

To be fair, I think that all the evidence should be looked at in the round, rather than isolating single facts and questioning them.

There is a lot of assertion going on here. I have evidenced and cited everything I have said; that's not true for everyone. It is particularly unhelpful for someone to project their own personal feelings onto the subject; I respect that Walrasiad has identified their viewpoint as a sensitivity and an insecurity, but it does not enlighten us here. I have made it clear that his engagement with Scotland, Scottish culture, and Scottish connections continues through his adulthood; this is not based only on the nationalities of his parents, or only on where he spent his formative years, but on analysis of those facts and his continued engagement thereafter. Interestingly, that doesn't appear to be an aspect people in this conversation will acknowledge, although there is a wealth of high-quality scholarship to back it up.

In his time, Byron referenced the Scottish aspects of his identity (see "Don Juan" for it being made irrevocably explicit), as well as by his lover Lady Caroline Lamb and his biographer Sir Cosmo Gordon. I have to repeat this because these are facts that are being ignored. I also cite scholarly work on this topic, and I am alone in doing so in this conversation:

Professor Murray Pittock, "Scotland: The Global History, 1603 to the Present" (2022)

Jonathan Gross, "From Lord Nevil to Dugald Dalgetty: Byron's Scottish Identity in Italy", featuring in Alan Rawes and Diego Saglia (ed.), "Byron and Italy" (2020)

Roderick Speer, "Byron and the Scottish Literary Tradition" in "Studies in Scottish Literature", Volume 14, Issue 1 (1979)

Anne Fleming, "In Search of Byron in England and Scotland" (1988)

Andrew Rutherford, "Byron, Scott, and Scotland in Charles E. Robinson (ed.) "Lord Byron and His Contemporaries: Essays from the Sixth International Byron Seminar"(1982)

I would appreciate other people evidencing their claims. Thank you both very much for your input. Scottymacd (talk) 21:57, 24 October 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Those who knew him best say he hosted, and certainly frequently expressed, rather anti-Scottish sentiments:
"Cordial, however, and deep as were the impressions he retained of Scotland, he would sometimes in this, as in all his other amiable feelings, endeavour perversely to belie his on better nature; and when under the excitement of anger or ridicule persuade not only others, but even himself, that the whole current of feelings ran directly otherwise. The abuse which which in his anger against the ER he overwhelmed every thing Scotch is an instance of his temporary triumph of wilfulness; and at any time, the least association of ridicule with the country or its inhabitants was sufficient, for the moment, to put all his sentiment to flight. A friend of his once described to me the half-playful rage into which she saw him thrown one day, by a heedless girl, who remarked that she thought he had a little of the Scotch accent. "Good God, I hope not!" he exclaimed, "I'm sure I haven't. I would rather the whole damned country was sunk into the sea - I the Scotch accent!". (Thomas Moore, Life of Lord Byron, p.12).
And we have some of his own words for it:
"Daughter of Jove! in Britain's injured name,
A true-born Briton may the deed disclaim.
Frown not on England; England owns him not:
Athena, no! thy plunderer was a Scot.
Ask'st thou the difference? From fair Phyles' towers
Survey Boeotia; — Caledonia's ours.
And well I know within that bastard land
Hath Wisdom's goddess never held command;
A barren soil, where Nature's germs, confined
To stern sterility, can stint the mind;
Whose thistle well betrays the niggard earth,
Emblem of all to whom the Land gives birth;
Each genial influence nurtured to resist;
A land of meanness, sophistry, and mist.
Each breeze from foggy mount and marshy plain
Dilutes with drivel every drizzly brain,⁠
Till, burst at length, each wat'ry head o'erflows,
Foul as their soil, and frigid as their snows:
Then thousand schemes of petulance and pride
Despatch her scheming children far and wide;
Some East, some West, some—everywhere but North!
In quest of lawless gain, they issue forth.
And thus—accursed be the day and year!
She sent a Pict to play the felon here.
Yet Caledonia claims some native worth,
As dull Bœotia gave a Pindar birth;
So may her few, the lettered and the brave,
Bound to no clime and victors of the grave,
Shake off the sordid dust of such a land,
And shine like children of a happier strand;
As once, of yore, in some obnoxious place,
Ten names (if found) had saved a wretched race."
(Curse of Minerva, 1811)
I'm sure modern nationalists would rather characterize him as a "self-hating Scot", like that whole baggage of 18th Century "North Britons" who even banished the term. Walrasiad (talk) 08:27, 25 October 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]