Romantic poet LORD BYRON was born in London. It’s funny how Byron comes down to us as the über-heterosexual romantic, but the evidence of his deep same-sex love is very clear (if still denied by homophobic historians).
While a student at Trinity College, Byron fell deeply in love with a fifteen year old choirboy by the name of John Edleston. About his “protégé” Byron wrote, “He has been my almost constant associate since October, 1805, when I entered Trinity College. His voice first attracted my attention, his countenance fixed it, and his manners attached me to him for ever.”
Many years later, upon learning of his friend’s death, Byron wrote, “I have heard of a death the other day that shocked me more than any, of one whom I loved more than any, of one whom I loved more than I ever loved a living thing, and one who, I believe, loved me to the last.”
In his memory Byron composed “Thyrza,” a series of elegies, in which he changed the pronouns from masculine to feminine so as not to offend sensibilities. From 1809 to 1811, Byron went on the Grand Tour then customary for a young nobleman.
The Napoleonic Wars forced him to avoid most of Europe, and he instead turned to the Mediterranean. Correspondence among his circle of Cambridge friends also makes clear that a key motive was the hope of homosexual experience. He was successful in this motive, as evidenced by the subject matter of poems like “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage” and other writings from this period. Ultimately he was to live abroad to escape the censure of British society, where men could be forgiven for sexual misbehavior only up to a point, one which Byron far surpassed.