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The British Association for Romantic Studies (BARS) was set up in 1989 by academics to promote the study of the cultural history of the Romantic period. Since then, BARS has organised eight International conferences at various locations in the UK, has published the BARS Bulletin and Review twice-yearly, and currently has more than 350 members.

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Byron: The Image of the Poet

Edited by Christine Kenyon Jones

Apr 2008 136pp
978-0-87413-997-6 Hardback £30.95

‘Don’t look at him. He is dangerous to look at.’
Lady Liddell to her daughter, on seeing Lord Byron in St Peter’s, Rome, 1817

Looking at Byron, as a man, soon became almost as important (and supposedly as dangerous to young girls) as reading his poetry. Once images of Byron came to be publicly available through engraved portraits in frontispieces and magazines, many of the illustrations for the works imported the characteristic features of the poet himself - particularly the curly hair and distinctive hairline - into the depictions of Childe Harold, Manfred, Don Juan and other Byronic literary alter egos.

The fame of the Romantic poet Lord Byron rests not only on his work but also on the way he looked and the way he was portrayed during his lifetime and after his death. Originating in a one-day conference held at the National Portrait Gallery in London, this is the first collection of papers to be published on the visual aspects of Byron and Byronism. Topics explored include Byron’s relations with the artists who sketched, painted and sculpted him and those who commissioned portraits of him (including his publisher); his self-image and its expression in his work; the way in which his features were used in illustrations of the heroes of his poems; his role in early forms of modern celebrity culture such as prints, medals and other forms of memorabilia; the way he has been represented on screen, and his role as a political icon.

Discussion of the relationship between the different literary ‘Byrons’ created by the poet has long been a part of Byron commentary. Less well explored until now is the wide range of visual manifestations of Byron: not only those recorded ad vivum – face to face – with the poet, and not only the “authorized” paintings and busts whose production Byron did his best to control during his life-time, but also the caricatures, informal sketches, engravings, memorabilia and the film portrayals through which Byron, his features and his image have been presented and interpreted in the nearly two centuries since his death.

This range of representation demonstrates the trajectory from Byron to Byronism: from the poet (who may or may not be identified with the “real” George Gordon Byron, sixth Baron Byron of Rochdale) to the mythic persona which is the creation not just of Byron himself but also of many other hands. These papers study Byron as an object as well as a subject in terms of cultural production.

Introduction, Christine Kenyon Jones. Lord Byron’s image, Germaine Greer. “Famous in my time”: publicization of portraits of Byron during his lifetime, Annette Peach. Ways of seeing Byron, Tom Mole. Byron memorabilia, Geoffrey Bond. Byron: the cinematic image, Peter Cochran. Byron’s body, Christine Kenyon Jones. Byron as a political icon, Bernard Beatty.

About the Editor
Dr Christine Kenyon Jones is a Research Fellow in the Department of English at King’s College London and a member of the Executive Committee of the Byron Society. Her book, Kindred Brutes: Animals in Romantic-period Writing was published in 2001. She has lectured and written widely on Byron and on Romanticism, including articles on Southey and food; on Elizabeth Barrett Browning, on Byron’s portraits, on his biographers, his view of Keats, and his Scottish religious heritage.