Letter from Lord Byron about his memoirs, 29 October 1819


This letter was written by Lord Byron to his publisher, John Murray, in October 1819. In the letter Byron recognises that the public reception of Don Juan ‘is no encouragement to you or to me to proceed’. At this time Byron still had a good relationship with Murray; Byron recognised Murray had taken a financial risk in publishing his poetry. 

What does Byron say about his memoirs? 

He mentions that he has given a section of his memoirs to his friend Thomas Moore, with the statement that they are not for publication until after Byron’s death. He offers them for reading to Murray and anyone else, and he is careful to specify that they are not libellous. In the event, after Byron’s death, Moore and Murray were part of a group that deliberately burnt Byron’s memoirs, for fear that they should damage the reputation of the author – and his publisher. 

Byron ends the letter by stating his intention to emigrate to Venezuela with his daughter Allegra. Allegra died in 1822, aged five. 

The same volume holds an enclosure with a lock of Byron’s hair – what he described as his ‘best behaved curls’.

Full title:
Letter from Lord Byron to John Murray
29 October 1819, Venice, Italy
Manuscript / Letter / Ephemera
Lord Byron
© GG Byron
Held by
British Library
Ashley MS 4752

Full catalogue details

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