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The Fall of the House of Byron

The Fall of the House of Byron

At the beginning of the eighteenth century, Newstead Abbey was one of the most prosperous and fashionable aristocratic homes in England. It was the abode of William the 4th Baron Byron – a popular and successful composer and artist – and his teenage wife Frances. But only a few decades later, at the end of the century, the building had become a crumbling and ill-cared-for ruin. The 4th Baron and most of his relatives had died, leaving the incumbent owner, William the 5th Baron Byron (the ‘Wicked Lord’), lying on his deathbed alongside his last remaining servant and amidst a thriving population of crickets.

This was the home that a small, pudgy boy of ten from Aberdeen – who the world would later come to know as Lord Byron, the Romantic poet, soldier, and adventurer – would inherit in 1798. His family, he would come to learn, had in recent decades become known for almost unfathomable levels of scandal and impropriety, from elopement, murder, and kidnapping to adultery, coercion, and thrilling near-death naval experiences. Just as it had shocked the society of Georgian London, the story of the Byrons, and the folklore of their outlandish scandal, would his influence his life and poetry for posterity.

The Fall of the House of Byron follows the fates of Lord Byron’s ancestors over three generations in a drama that begins in rural Nottinghamshire and plays out in the gentlemans’ clubs of Georgian London, amid tempests on far-flung seas, and in the glamour of pre-revolutionary France. A compelling story of a prominent and controversial characters, it is a sumptuous family portrait, and an electrifying work of social history.

(P) 2020 Hodder & Stoughton Ltd
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Genre: Biography & True Stories / Biography: General / Biography: Literary

On Sale: 16th April 2020

Price: £25

ISBN-13: 9781529358506

Reviews

A story of sex and scandal, but also of the fragility of life, the unyielding passion of the human heart, and the oppressive weight of the past. From the first to the last, the ghosts of the Byrons call out to us through Brand's evocative prose. Magnificent
Rebecca Rideal
Brand, a young historian specialising in eighteenth-century romance, traces the many ways that historical events cut across their lives, complete with observations from family acquaintances Horace Walpole and Samuel Johnson. However, her history is as much caught up with the "fiddle-faddle" of the bon ton, and is all the more enjoyable for it . . . a ravishing family saga'
Sunday Times
[Brand] has combed through [Byron's] forebears' correspondence to show that the blend of traits that we call Byronic - violent temper, rapacious sexuality, hunger for danger, gobsmacking solipsism - was an old vintage . . . scrupulously researched
The Times
The effect of [Brand's] narrative elasticity is to give the book a novelistic depth, which is added to by rich topographical descriptions and a packed historical backdrop. The Byrons, she concludes, were less cursed than the product of an age of upheaval
The Spectator
In this luscious slice of popular history, Emily Brand knits together all the naughtiest Byrons of the Georgian period into a glittering family tapestry . . . Brand is particularly good at describing the outrageous excess of aristocratic life . . . Brand has done an excellent job of placing the sexploits of the Byron family into the context of a broader social and political history . . . this feels like a fable of our times
Mail on Sunday
Pacey, well observed and written with gusto
Literary Review
Compellingly plotted, and Emily Brand renders a deeply imagined world
Irish Times Review
Brand should be commended for her command of detail and use of often extremely obscure period sources to illuminate both character and setting. This will justly be regarded as the definitive work about the wider Byron family.
The Critic
Brand charts the family fortunes in a book that is both extremely well researched and brilliantly written.
NSW [PRINT] Herald Sun [AUDIENCE: 306,571 ASR: AUD 38,632]
A gloriously indulgent portrait of a flamboyant family of adventurers, artists and scandalous socialites
NATIONAL [PRINT] Australian Women's Weekly [AUDIENCE: 375,036 ASR: AUD 32,720]
A dramatic family saga [that] shows that Lord Byron's ancestors were just as wicked and salacious as he was.
The Sunday Times