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The Fall of the House of Byron. Scandal and Seduction in Georgian England by Emily Brand. Book review

April 20, 2020

Book Cover of the Fall of the House of Byron

Living in Nottingham and therefore knowing Newstead Abbey well, I’m always interested in books which relate to its history and the people associated with it. Although Newstead is forever welded to the sixth Baron, Byron George Gordon Barber (the infamous poet), I was interested to learn more about the people who had inhabited in ti or were associated with the place and put their world in context.

The Fall of the House of Byron begins with the arrival of young George and his determined mother to a less than pristine Newstead Abbey, then slips back into the past and his ancestors.

Reading about their many escapades and adventures, brought the expression of “the apple not falling far from the tree” to mind. That Lord Byron of literary renown was considered to be “mad, bad and dangerous to know” seems to align well with the activities of his forebears.

But The Fall of the House of Byron is far from a sensationalist take on the family and more a well-researched, interesting and detailed read which lends itself more to an academic text than a “bodice-ripping” expose of a family who clearly knew how to live life to the full.

Prepare yourself with a pen and paper before you begin to read, as well as the ability to use the internet. The timeline does move around backwards and forwards, which can make it a little bit confusing if you’re not paying attention. That the nobility had the tendency to name their children after themselves leads to quite a few people of the same name cropping up in the different generations.

The sheer volume of information will require a halt to the reading to put the book to once side, think about it and then come back to it again after consulting your notes and Google to get the timeline and family tree straight.

For anyone wanting a thorough insight into the mores of the upper classes in the eighteenth century and their relationship to the world at large, The Fall of the House of Byron is an excellent book to delve into and a useful work of reference.

The Fall of the House of Byron was courtesy John Murray

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