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The Byronic All-Dayer

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Weds 17 April  The Byronic All-dayer: a celebration of his life and works

A celebratory gathering of writers and performers marking Byron's bicentenary
It is two centuries since the end of Byron’s short and spectacular life. The British Library holds significant Byron archive – including a lock of his hair – and now hosts the bicentenary celebration with a day of discussion and exploration; poetic licence and politics. What meaning do his life and work bring to the worlds of politics and literature today? Spend the day with the most Byronic of speakers, scholars and musicians. 

10:30 Doors open 

11:00-12:00        Opening lecture: What Byron teaches us about Democracy  Illustrated - with readings
Andrew Stauffer, author of Byron: A Life in Ten Letters and President of the Byron Society of America, gives an illustrated examination of Byron’s relationship with liberty, democracy, and the idea of nationhood, framed against his death in Greece, his involvement with the Italian nationalist movement, and his enthusiasm for Bolivar. What does Byron teach us about democracy today?

Andrew Stauffer is a professor and the Chair of the Department of English at the University of Virginia. He is the author of Byron: A Life in Ten Letters (Cambridge, 2024) and Book Traces: Nineteenth-Century Readers and the Future of the Library (Penn, 2021), which won the inaugural Marilyn Gaull Award for scholarship in Romanticism. He is the author of Anger, Revolution, and Romanticism (Cambridge, 2005) and the editor of works by Byron, Robert Browning and H. Rider Haggard. He has been awarded grants for his research from the NEH and the Andrew Mellon Foundation.

12:30-13:00        Lady Antonia’s Free-Spirited Fireside Chat:
Acclaimed historian Antonia Fraser invokes the presence of Byron in her latest work, Lady Caroline Lamb: A Free Spirit, with Miranda Seymour, author of In Byron's Wake
Antonia Fraser is the author of many historical works which have been international bestsellers. They include two studies of French history – Love and Louis XIV, and Marie Antoinette: the Journey, the best seller which was used by Sofia Coppola as the basis for her film in 2006.  Must You Go?, a memoir of her life with Harold Pinter, was published in 2010, and My History: A Memoir of Growing Up in 2015. She was made a Companion of Honour in 2018 for services to literature.
Miranda Seymour, celebrated as a biographer, novelist, memoir writer and critic, has been a visiting professor at Nottingham Trent University. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. She is the author of the award-winning memoir, In My Father’s House. Her many acclaimed biographies include: A Ring of Conspirators, a study of Henry James and his literary circle; Ottoline Morrell: Life on a Grand Scale; Robert Graves: Life on the Edge; Mary Shelley; In Byron’s Wake, The Bugatti Queen and I Used to Live Here Once: The Haunted Life of Jean Rhys. 

13:00 break for lunch

14:30 – 15:45     Byron and Bouboulina: gendering the Greek Revolution
Laskarina Bouboulina is one of the greatest figures in Greece’s modern history, a revered revolutionary leader whose iconic fame equalled Byron’s at home and abroad. Leading Bouboulina scholars Rachel Holmes and April Householder discuss how their ground-breaking feminist history of Greece’s hero and her sisterhood network challenges the notion of the Greek Revolution as a man-made historical event. In conversation with Mathelinda Nabugodi.

Rachel Holmes is the author of Sylvia Pankhurst - Natural Born Rebel (2020), Eleanor Marx: A Life (2014), The Hottentot Venus: The Life and Death of Sarah Baartman (2006) and The Secret Life of Dr James Barry (2002), all published by Bloomsbury.  She has edited works including the previously undiscovered play Between Two Fires by Sylvia Pankhurst, (Methuen Drama 2022) which premiered in London in 2023. The first book in her historical fiction series inspired by the life and legacy of Admiral Laskarina Boubilina and the Greek Revolution is out next year.  

April Kalogeropoulos Householder Ph.D. is the Director of Undergraduate Research at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (U.S.) In 2016, April published her Feminist Perspectives on Orange is the New Black: Thirteen Critical Essays and has authored several other book chapters on intersectional feminist media. Her most recent book is Bouboulina and the Greek Revolution: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Heroine of 1821 (2023). Her next project, with Rachel Holmes, is a multi-media biography examining Bouboulina’s archeological remains, Bouboulina’s Bones: An Osteobiography.

Mathelinda Nabugodi is Lecturer in Comparative Literature at University College London. She is the author of Shelley with Benjamin: A Critical Mosaic (2023) and one of the editors on the six-volume Longman edition of The Poems of Shelley. Her current book project explores the connections between British Romanticism and the Black Atlantic through the archives of the Romantic poets.

16:15-17:30         Naughty Byron vs Basic Byron: It’s a Knockout

This session wrangles brilliant, new and queer interpretations of Byron, ranging from his scandalous ancestors to secret codes and the skeletons in his cupboard. Historians Emily Brand and Alexander Grammatikos rise to the challenge, gamely refereed by Andy McInnes.

Emily Brand is an author, genealogist and historian specialising in the Georgian era. The Fall of the House of Byron – exploring the scandals and heroism of the poet’s 18th-century ancestors – was selected as Radio 4’s Book of the Week and named a Book of the Year by the Sunday Times, the Mail on Sunday and BBC History Magazine. Her favourite Byron family fact is that the poet’s aristocratic great-aunt Isabella wrote an etiquette guide for young women, while living in sin abroad with a common German toyboy.

Alexander Grammatikos is an Instructor at Langara College on unceded Musqueam territory in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (or, Turtle Island). His first book, British Romantic Literature and the Emerging Modern Greek Nation (Palgrave Macmillan), was published in 2018. He and Maria Schoina are co-editors of the collection Byron and Translation, which will be out at the end of 2024 (Liverpool University Press). His favourite Byron fact is that he was obsessed with 'gender performativity' before that was even a thing.

Andrew McInnes is Reader in Romanticisms at Edge Hill University and Co-Director of EHU Nineteen, the university’s Research Centre in Nineteenth-Century Studies. From 2020-2022, he was Principal Investigator on ‘The Romantic Ridiculous’, an AHRC-funded Early Career Leadership Fellow project. He has published widely on Romantic period women’s writing, Gothic fiction, and children’s literature. His first book, Wollstonecraft’s Ghost, came out in 2016, and his second, Reading the Romantic Ridiculous, co-authored with Rita Dashwood, is forthcoming. His favourite Byron fact is that Byron’s friends made him take all the jokes out of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage.

17:30-18:30         Pause for drinks, toasts, music and merriment - brought to you by the Wordsworth Trust and the Byron Society

18:30-19:30        The Wordsworth Trust presents: Byron in English and European Romanticism

‘Byron shaking the dust of England from his shoes’

The Wordsworth Trust’s expert panel is chaired by Professor Sir Drummond Bone. He will be joined by Jane Stabler and Diego Saglia in a discussion exploring two aspects of Byron: his place within (and outside) Romanticism, including his relationship to Wordsworth and other English poets of the period, and his relationship with European Romanticism at large.

Professor Sir Drummond Bone is Chair of Trustees at the Wordsworth Trust and Chair of the National Library of Scotland. He was Master of Balliol College, Oxford until April 2018, and is a former Chair of the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Vice Chancellor of the University of Liverpool and Principal of Royal Holloway College, University of London. He is also a Senior Advisory Editor of the journal Romanticism, author of Byron (Writers and their Work), and Editor of The Cambridge Companion to Byron.

Jane Stabler is a Professor at the School of English, University of St Andrews, Scotland. Her books include Byron, Poetics and History (Cambridge University Press, 2002) and The Artistry of Exile: Romantic & Victorian Writers in Italy (Oxford University Press, 2013). She is the lead editor for the Longman Annotated English Poets edition of Lord Byron’s poems. Don Juan, co-edited with Dr Gavin Hopps, which will be published in 2024.

Diego Saglis is Professor of English Literature at the University of Parma (Italy). His research focuses on Romantic literature and culture. He is the director of Italy's Interuniversity Centre for the Study of Romanticism (CISR) and sits on the advisory committee of Ravenna’s Museo Byron. His co-edited book Byron and Italy (with Alan Rawes, 2017) was awarded the Elma Dangerfield Award in 2018. His latest monographs are European Literatures in Britain, 1815–1832: Romantic Translations (2019) and, in Italian, Modernita? del Romanticismo: scrittura e cambiamento nella letteratura britannica 1780-1830 (2023).

Tickets for just the evening lecture can be purchased here

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Image caption – main image: Edited version of ‘Lord Byron in Albanian Dress’ by Thomas Phillips (circa 1835), © National Portrait Gallery, in the public domain. Background image: Curtain, ca. 1885 American, Silk velvet embroidered with metallic threads; 83 1/4 x 45 1/2 in. (211.5 x 115.6 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Louise Ransom, 1984 (1984.450.1, .2), in the public domain.