At the heart of this book stands Augusta - Byron's half-sister with whom he had a passionate love affair - and Byron's society wife Annabella. Crane has recreated their meeting - 40 years after the death of Byron at which they argue and declare their motives for the actions and events that have shaped their adult lives. The dialogue is taken entirely from their letters and diaries. It covers Byron's relationship with them both, Augusta's daughter by Bryon - Medora's subsequent incestuous affair with her sister's husband, Annabella's daughter Ada, and the inescapability of of sexual mistakes in 19th century Britain.
David Crane read history and English at Oxford University. He has lectured at universities in America, Holland, Japan and Africa. He is the author of Lord Byron's Jackal, a biography of Edward Trelawny. He lives in London.
'In Lord Byron's Jackal, David Crane brings Edward Trelawny - seaman, scoundrel, friend of Byron and Shelley startlingly to life. Here is a wonderful adventure story about a man who invented himself in the image of the Byronic hero and lived to the hilt the final passionate and violent flowering of Romanticism in the cause of Greek independence.' STELLA TILLYARD 'Fascinating and oddly disturbing, Crane vividly evokes the horror of a revolution in which both sides were equally brutal. His is a complex book, but as a narrative of mingled fraud and genius it is altogether convincing.' Jan Morris, Independent
David Crane, the author of the acclaimed Lord Byron's Jackal: A Life of Edward John Trelawney, has come up with another off-kilter take on the great poet. Here, Crane re-examines Byron's legacy through the words and lives of the women he loved and left behind. At the heart of this enthralling narrative is the life-long feud between Byron's half-sister Augusta - with whom he had a passionate affair - and his society wife Annabella Milbanke. Crane reconstructs and presents, in playlet form, a meeting between the two women in their old age, years after Byron's death. Through this dramatized meeting he explores the jealousy and vulnerability of all concerned. This is a story full of dubious motives - none more so than Annabella's supposed 'saving' of Augusta and her child Medora, and the twisted revenge she took on them both. Unconventional in its approach, this book brings to the fore the lives of two startlingly different but equally remarkable 19th-century women who might otherwise be doomed to play little more than supporting roles in the oft-overblown drama of Byron's life. In Crane's more than capable hands, the tables are turned. Lord Noel lurks petulantly in the background, preening his feathers. 'You should not have warred with the world,' Madame Stael once warned him. 'It will not do - it is too strong for any individual.' (Kirkus UK)
HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
Annabella Milbanke and the Destruction of the Byrons
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16 b/w plates