Academic journal article The Byron Journal

The International Byron Societies 2011-2012

Academic journal article The Byron Journal

The International Byron Societies 2011-2012

Article excerpt


The programme for our fortieth anniversary year began on 27 January 2011 at the Naval Club, where we were delighted to welcome Mr William St Clair to speak to us on 'Byron: The Last Half Century'. Mr St Clair traced the re-awakening of interest in Byron to the re-formation of The Byron Society in 1971, the first Byron Society in the world. Mr St Clair gave us a rare insight into the many and varied people involved in the Byron world at that time, and particularly into the contribution of Doris Langley Moore, a great expert not only on the writings of Byron but also the style and code of dress in his times, and the drive of Elma Dangerfield, the member responsible for the re-founding of The Byron Society. Mr St Clair kindly brought along a small selection of rare books on Byron from his own library, some of which we were able to inspect! Everyone at the lunch thoroughly enjoyed Mr St Clair's talk and he received a very enthusiastic round of applause.

On 27 February we welcomed the actress Miss Alison Skilbeck back to the Naval Club, where she gave us some splendid readings from Byron's poems, Don Juan in particular. We were delighted to have Miss Skilbeck come to us again so that we could enjoy such a professional presentation of Byron's poetry.

Dr Alexandra Loske (Sussex University and Curator at the Brighton Pavilion) gave a talk to the society on 15 March entitled 'Byron and the Prince Regent: Two Romantic Eccentrics' - about two men who shared a love for the arts, romantic buildings, poetry and women. Dr Loske explored their brief encounter, their building projects and the relationship/contact between Byron and Princess Charlotte. To illustrate her talk, Dr Loske brought a fascinating selection of slides, which were viewed with great interest. Her lecture gave us all much food for thought and much to talk about afterwards.

On 5 April we had the pleasure of hearing Lord Strathcarron talk on 'Joy Unconfined! Lord Byron's Grand Tour, re-Toured' at the Naval Club. Between 1809 and 1811, Byron completed his Grand Tour of the Mediterranean. He first sailed from Falmouth to Lisbon, then his entourage rode down to Seville and Cadiz. He sailed from Gibraltar to Sardinia, Sicily, Malta, Greece, Albania, back to Greece, then Turkey, Malta again, and home to England. Lord and Lady Strathcarron boarded their 'Freedom 40 Vasco da Gama' and sailed out of Portsmouth to recreate Byron's Grand Tour. Lord Strathcarron described their voyage as propitious and perilous, mysterious and mischievous, but seldom abstemious. We are grateful to him for giving us such an entertaining and informative evening.

Dr Jonathon Shears (Keele University) joined us at the Naval Club on 18 May to give a splendid talk on 'Sermons and Soda Water - Damned Corkscrew Stairs - Byron's Hangovers'. How bad were Byron's hangovers, how frequently did he suffer them and when? Using evidence drawn from Byron's letters, journals and poetry, alongside medical accounts taken from Regency and recent cognitive studies, Dr Shears discussed Byron's physical and metaphysical suffering. He examined the way in which a transferrable grammar of hangover is at times embedded in Byron's thinking about melancholy and anxiety, and how hangovers become for Byron a reminder of the relationship between body, mind and spirit. This fascinating talk engrossed members and they were able to put many questions to Dr Shears afterwards. The talk received much applause.

On 11 June Geoffrey and Dianora Bond most kindly invited members to visit them at Burgage Manor, where they were able to see the home of Byron (who lived there with his mother for a time) and to view the garden. After lunch Geoffrey took the visitors on a tour of Southwell, visiting the Minster and seeing the Georgian houses and streets, which are of great interest. Members expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to see Burgage Manor, and thanked Geoffrey and Dianora for their hospitality. …

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