Lord Byron had a huge collection of female admirers” letters

August 14th, 2008 - 12:38 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Aug 14 (ANI): Lord Byron, an English poet and a leading figure in Romanticism, had a huge collection of fan mails from anonymous women, it has been revealed.
Byron had an image of an aloof and reclusive poet who did not invite public adoration.
However, the letters - studied for the first time by Corin Throsby, an academic at Oxford University - show that he enjoyed being adored and wrote suggestive poetry that ”flirted” with his readers, inviting them to respond in kind.
The unpublished letters, dated between 1812 and 1814, reveal the love of Byron’’s fans, who often laced their notes with daring sexual undertones and breathless fantasies.
Most of the correspondence was brief and untidy, and Byron kept them despite the fact that most of the female authors asked him to dispose of them, as their language would have scandalised respectable 19th-century society.
The fact that he ignored the women’’s pleas and apparently kept the letters further undermines the myth that Byron was a reluctant literary hero.
While the letters of notable women who wrote to Bryon have been studied in the past, such as those from the novelist and aristocrat Lady Caroline Lamb, these 45 epistles- the remains of hundreds of unnamed fan letters that Byron admitted to receiving - have never before been published.
Throsby, who has transcribed all the anonymous letters in Scotland’’s Murray Archive, said that Byron’’s admirers were often literary themselves.
She added that the letters marked the advent of celebrity fan mail which became a staple phenomenon in the 20th century but was rare in Byron’’s lifetime.
“They were often personal outpourings - some were written as poetry and some cast him as one of his own poetic characters,” The Independent quoted her, as saying.
“Some [writers] even sent him their own work while others spoke of their own circumstances and how they felt much better for writing to Byron. Many of them were furtive and embarrassed and said: ”Can you burn this letter as soon as you have read it” …
“The fact that he kept them suggests he really did care what people thought and although he struck a pose of aloofness, he appears to have treasured these letters,” she added.
The letters, which are soon set to be digitised for public view by the National Library of Scotland, also reveal a darker side to his devotees” zeal.
On 15 July 1817, Byron wrote to his publisher, John Murray: “I suppose in my life I have received at least 200 anonymous letters - aye - 300 - of love, literature, advice, abuse, menace or consolation, upon all topics and in every shape”.
Dr Jane Stabler, a reader in Romanticism at the University of St Andrews and herself a Byron scholar, said : “The fact that Byron kept [the letters] is important. He was absolutely fascinated by his own reception and the way he was perceived. He even mingled his poetry with his own self-creation. He pretended not to care about his reader while at the same time making huge efforts to keep track of what his readers thought about him.” (ANI)

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