The Fall of the House of Byron
THE SUNDAY TIMES LITERATURE BOOKS OF THE YEAR
MAIL ON SUNDAY BOOK OF THE YEAR
BBC HISTORY BOOK OF THE YEAR
THE RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK
‘Delectable … a ravishing family saga’ Sunday Times
‘Brings to life the colourful characters of the Georgian era’s most notorious families with all the verve and skill of the era’s finest novelists … A powdered and pomaded, sordid and silk-swathed adventure’ Hallie Rubenhold
‘A chocolate box full of delicious gothic delights – jump in’ Lucy Worsley
‘Brand is a great historian, equal to the huge challenge of telling the story of history’s most turbulent and colourful lives’ Dan Snow
‘A hauntingly beautiful portrait of the Byron dynasty’ Rebecca Rideal
In the early eighteenth century, Newstead Abbey was among the most admired aristocratic homes in England. It was the abode of William, 4th Baron Byron – a popular amateur composer and artist – and his teenage wife Frances. But by the end of the century, the building had become a crumbling and ill-cared-for ruin. Surrounded by wreckage of his inheritance, the 4th Baron’s dissipated son and heir William, 5th Baron Byron – known to history as the ‘Wicked Lord’ – lay on his deathbed alongside a handful of remaining servants 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 experiences at sea. Just as it had shocked the society of Georgian London, the outlandish and scandalous story of the Byrons – and the myths that began to rise around it – 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 gentlemen’s 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.
A dramatic family saga [that] shows that Lord Byron's ancestors were just as wicked and salacious as he was. * The Sunday Times * 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] * 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] * 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 * Gripping ... A tale of murder, seduction, incest, elopement and shipwreck ... Just gorgeous. * BBC History Magazine * Compellingly plotted, and Emily Brand renders a deeply imagined world * Irish Times Review * 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 Pacey, well observed and written with gusto * Literary Review * 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 *
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