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The Fall of the House of Byron: Scandal and Seduction in Georgian England

Emily Brand

8 Reviews

Rated 0

Biography: literary

'Delectable ... a ravishing family saga' Sunday Times

'A cracking yarn ... A crisp and seductive tour through the history of a family who never knew when to say no - to a drink, a bet, or a sexual invitation - this is a treat' Daily Telegraph

'Utterly gripping ... a triumph of detective work and literary skill' Amanda Foreman

'A hauntingly beautiful portrait of the Byron dynasty' Rebecca Rideal

'Combining new research with a pacy narrative, Emily Brand introduces the glamorous and flawed Byron dynasty-William, the 'Wicked Lord', pleasure-seeking Isabella, and 'Mad Jack'-a family inheritance to match the wildest imaginings of their most notorious descendant. A riveting read! Professor Kathryn Sutherland

In the early eighteenth century, Newstead Abbey was among the most admired aristocratic homes in England. It was the abode of William, 4th Baron Byron - a popular amateur composer and artist - and his teenage wife Frances. But by the end of the century, the building had become a crumbling and ill-cared-for ruin. Surrounded by wreckage of his inheritance, the 4th Baron's dissipated son and heir William, 5th Baron Byron - known to history as the 'Wicked Lord' - lay on his deathbed alongside a handful of remaining servants and amidst a thriving population of crickets.

This was the home that a small, pudgy boy of ten from Aberdeen - who the world would later come to know as Lord Byron, the Romantic poet, soldier, and adventurer - would inherit in 1798. His family, he would come to learn, had in recent decades become known for almost unfathomable levels of scandal and impropriety, from elopement, murder, and kidnapping to adultery, coercion, and thrilling near-death experiences at sea. Just as it had shocked the society of Georgian London, the outlandish and scandalous story of the Byrons - and the myths that began to rise around it - would his influence his life and poetry for posterity.

THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF BYRON follows the fates of Lord Byron's ancestors over three generations in a drama that begins in rural Nottinghamshire and plays out in the gentlemen's clubs of Georgian London, amid tempests on far-flung seas, and in the glamour of pre-revolutionary France. A compelling story of a prominent and controversial characters, it is a sumptuous family portrait and an electrifying work of social history.

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Praise for The Fall of the House of Byron: Scandal and Seduction in Georgian England

  • A story of sex and scandal, but also of the fragility of life, the unyielding passion of the human heart, and the oppressive weight of the past. From the first to the last, the ghosts of the Byrons call out to us through Brand's evocative prose. Magnificent.

  • Revelatory and readable, Brand opens up the story of Byron's inheritance, a legacy that will be the making and unmaking of him. A fascinating, gripping work - The Words in My Hand

  • In this luscious slice of popular history, Emily Brand knits together all the naughtiest Byrons of the Georgian period into a glittering family tapestry...Brand is particularly good at describing the outrageous excess of aristocratic life...Brand has done an excellent job of placing the sexploits of the Byron family into the context of a broader social and political history...this feels like a fable of our times. - The Mail on Sunday

  • Pacey, well observed and written with gusto ... it is composed with affectionate glee - Literary Review

  • 'Brand's delectable family biography... traces the many ways that historical events cut across their lives, complete with observations from family acquaintances Horace Walpole and Samuel Johnson. However, her history is as much caught up with the "fiddle-faddle" of the bon ton, and is all the more enjoyable for it...a ravishing family saga' - The Sunday Times

  • [Brand] has combed through [Byron's] forebears' correspondence to show that the blend of traits that we call Byronic - violent temper, rapacious sexuality, hunger for danger, gobsmacking solipsism - was an old vintage... scrupulously researched - The Times

  • The effect of her narrative elasticity is to give the book a novelistic depth, which is added to by rich topographical descriptions and a packed historical backdrop. The Byrons, she concludes, were less cursed than the product of an age of upheaval. - The Spectator

  • Compellingly plotted, and Emily Brand renders a deeply imagined world - Irish Times Review

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