Byron and his Children by Susan Normington
Much has been said about Lord Byron’s brilliant use of the English language and his decadent lifestyle, but comparatively less has been written about Byron as a father.
Becoming a father for the first time as a teenager and then again after an affair with a housemaid, he married Annabella Milbanke in 1815, who provided him with his only legitimate child, Ada Lovelace, who would go on to become one of the very first computer programmers. Following her bitter separation with Byron, Annabella would spread rumours of incest between him and his sister, Augusta Leigh. Indeed, it seems likely he fathered Augusta’s daughter, Medora, whose own short life was almost as scandalous as Byron’s. His last child, Allegra, was the product of an affair with Mary Shelley’s step-sister, Claire Clairmont. Byron adored Allegra, who lived with him in Italy until he sent her to be educated in a convent, where she contracted a fever and died at age five.
A vivid account of Byron’s relationships with his children, and their importance in his life and poetry, Byron and his Children puts a new perspective on the life of the poet, and discloses a tender side to his character. Drawing on his relationships with women and examining how his own childhood influenced his attitudes towards his children, Susan Normington’s book is a rich and evocative study of Lord Byron as a father.
Susan Normington is a partner in Normington & Normington Marketing Service and an elected member of Cambridgeshire County Council, where she serves on the Education Committee and the Special Advisory Group which considers school re-organization. Born in London, she was educated at Virgo Fidelis Convent and at Queen’s College, London. Having started her working life in advertising, she subsequently spent many years abroad in the Far East and in the USA, where she worked in public relations at the Tyrone Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis and also qualified as a member of the US Board of Realtors.