Byron Avenue, KT3

Place Name

One of a random scattering of roads named after poets – possibly because of the confusion over nearby Tennyson Avenue. George Gordon Noel Byron, (January 22, 1788 – April 19, 1824), 6th Baron Byron or best known simply as Lord Byron, poet, peer, and politician. The most fashionable poet of the early 1800s, he was described as “mad—bad—and dangerous to know” by Lady Caroline Lamb who was later to become his lover. Among his best-known works are the lengthy narrative poems Don Juan, and Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. Among some of his best known lines are: “Though I love my country, I do not love my countrymen”; “Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine”; and “Men love in haste, but they detest at leisure”. He is considered one of the leading figures of the Romantic movement. Byron was born into an upper-class but impoverished household, his father having burned through wife’s fortune before absconding to France to escape debtors, where he died when his son was three years old. This inauspicious start was compounded by the young boy’s club foot, his mother’s emotional instability and her fierce temper. That said she also showered him with love. When he was ten, following the death of his great uncle the Wicked fifth Lord Byron, he inherited the title of Baron Byron of Rochdale, heir to Newstead Abbey, the family seat in Nottinghamshire. He attended Harrow School, where he lost his virginity to a maid before he had reached his teenage years. He also had various homosexual affairs. He went on to attend Trinity College, Cambridge, where he began to run up debts. When he was of age he took up his seat in the House of Lords. His appetites, both for food and women, were huge not only did he put on a lot of weight – periodically losing it during regular purges – but he was a glutton for sex, indulging in an estimated 200 liaisons with prostitutes, over five years, at a cost he estimated at £2,500 (£375,000 today). The death of his close friend Shelley sent him into fits of despair. His trips to Greece and Turkey influenced much of his writing. In 1823 he joined the Greeks in their war of independence against the Ottoman Empire. He died the following year having suffered a convulsive fit which his doctor diagnosed as epilepsy, though it may have been a stroke. Poets and playwrights were popular figures in which developers and local authorities took inspiration for street names.

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