Byron's 'Cordeau Blanc': The Life and Letters of Lady Melbourne

Synopsis

"What famous letters your own are... I never saw such traits of discernment, observation of character, knowledge of your own sex, and sly concealment of your knowledge of the foibles of ours," wrote the twenty-four-year-old Lord Byron to Lady Melbourne. More than one hundred previously unpublished letters of Lady Melbourne are included in this scholarly edition which vividly re-creates the late Georgian age. Lady Melbourne's controversial letters to Lord Byron are published in their entirety for the first time, revealing her significant influence on his masterpiece, Don Juan.

Long before the famous correspondence between Byron and Lady Melbourne began, she had impressed her own contemporaries as a woman of no small signficance. Married off to the son of a wealthy lawyer, she used her superior education, attention to detail, and business acumen to manage her amiable but dissolute husband's affairs.

A leading female agriculturist, she was the Duchess of Devonshire's closest confidante, as well as the mistress of the Prince of Wales (1780#150;84). At her residence in Piccadilly, she entertained a brilliant company that included Charles James Fox, George Canning, and Charles Grey. A half dozen of the nation's most famous painters executed her portrait in oil, while Sheridan recorded her witty repartee in The School for Scandal. Scholars of the Romantic period will welcome reading these carefully annotated letters written by one of the age's most ambitious and captivating personalities.