English Lit class senior year in high school. Romantic poetry. My eyes were starting to glaze over when Miss M mentioned that the poet we'd be studying next was a Jeopardy question the night before: "Poet who created the denim jacket." I was wearing my trusty covered-in-John-Taylor-buttons denim at that moment, I could totally empathize. Okay, maybe this guy wouldn't put me to sleep.
Byron is not boring. I mean, really, even the bits of his life we learned that were edited for seniors in high school in small town USA in the late 80s were pretty salacious. Then there's the writing. He's the only writer that I get a really strong mental image of when I read his work: giggling maniacally, scratching something, giggling again, pouring another for himself and his muse and then passing out. Or maybe that's Mozart. At any rate, he must have been a kick to have a drink with.
What truly fascinates me about him, though, is that he remains fascinating almost 200 years after his death. The first book written about him -- Glenarvon by Crazy Ex-Lover Who Burned Him In Effigy Lady Caroline Lamb -- appeared when he was 28 and since then there've been...well, there've been a lot. Some are fiction, some are non, some are somewhere in the middle. There've been movies, an opera, role playing games and he's appeared as a character in "The Highlander," "Star Trek:Voyager" and "Ghosts of Albion," an animated web series.
Even his hand in the creation of the modern celebrity has been covered extensively, from books to art exhibitions. He kept his fan letters and had the occasional assignation with their writers, though Clarie Clairmont is the only one we can say that of for certain (having a baby will do that). And Glenarvon was not the only tell-all. Later there was Lady Byron Vindicated by Harriet Beecher Stowe, detailing Lady B's side of the marriage. While the equation
(Wronged wife + Crusading Journalist) x (Accusation made by CE-LWBHIE)= KABOOM!
might seem obvious to us on this side of Mommy Dearest it was taken seriously at the time. I fully admit that I'm pretty cynical but wow. Stowe at one point, in a discussion of the Third Canto of Childe Harald's Pilgimage, says "[to these charges]...the wife replied nothing. 'As a lamb before her shearers is dumb, so she opened not her mouth.'" Wow.
So, the question is...what historical figure do you squee over? Fictional characters do not count, no matter how great they look in a cravat with cotton flying around them. Comments are open.