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Politician or Poet? The 6th Lord Byron in the House of Lords, 1809–13

Beckett, John


John Beckett


Lord George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron of Rochdale, is known internationally as, perhaps, the most famous Romantic poet of his generation. His work continues to be read across the globe. As a peer (succeeding to the title following the death of his great uncle, the 5th Baron Byron, in 1798) he was entitled to a seat in the Lords, and this article covers the period during which he was active in the House. He took his seat in 1809, but most of his work in the Lords took place between early 1812 and the summer of 1813. Thereafter, his financial troubles, his stellar literary career, and his personal problems, led him to spend little or no time in the House, and he lived abroad between 1816 and his death in 1824. In 1812, before he had become known for his poetry, except among a small London elite, he began actively to cultivate a political career, and he made his maiden speech on the Framework Knitters Bill in 1812. Byron was a prolific letter writer, and from his published correspondence as well as other sources of contemporary information, it is possible to document his growing career in the upper House, and to see how a young peer might make his way into politics in the absence of a particular sponsor.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jun 1, 2015
Print ISSN 0264-2824
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 34
Issue 2
Pages 201-217
APA6 Citation Beckett, J. (2015). Politician or Poet? The 6th Lord Byron in the House of Lords, 1809–13. Parliamentary History, 34(2), 201-217.
Publisher URL
Additional Information This article is a revised version of my Lucy Edwards lecture, given to the Newstead Abbey Byron Society, 11 Dec. 2011, to mark the 200th anniversary of Byron's maiden speech in the house of lords on 27 Feb. 1812. I should like to thank members of the audience on that occasion, and also Dr Richard Gaunt for helpful comments.