George Gordon, the son of Captain John Byron and Catherine Gordon, was born in London in 1788. Born with a club-foot, he spent the first ten years in his mother's lodgings in Aberdeen. Although originally a rich women, her fortune had been squandered by her husband.
In 1798 George succeeded to the title, Baron Byron of Rochdale, on the death of his great-uncle. Money was now available to provide Lord Byron with an education at Harrow School and Trinty College, Cambridge.
Lord Byron's first collection of poems, Hours of Idleness, appeared in 1807. The poems were savagely attacked by Henry Brougham in the Edinburgh Review. Byron replied with the publication of his satire, English Bards and Scotch Reviewers (1809).
In 1809 Byron set on his grand tour where he visited Spain, Malta, Albania and Greece. His poetical account of this grand tour, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (1812) established Byron as one of England's leading poets.
Lord Byron scandalized London by starting an affair with Lady Caroline Lamb and was ostracized when he was suspected of having a sexual relationship with his half-sister, Augusta Leigh, who gave birth to an illegitimate daughter.
Byron attending the House of Lords where he became a strong advocate of social reform. In 1811 he was one of the few men in Parliament to defend the actions of the Luddites and the following year spoke against the Frame Breaking Bill, by which the government intended to apply the death-penalty to Luddites. Byron's political views influenced the subject matter of his poems. Important examples include Song for the Luddites (1816) and The Landlords' Interest (1823). Byron also attacked his political opponents such as the Duke of Wellington and Lord Castlereagh in Wellington: The Best of the Cut-Throats (1819) and the The Intellectual Eunuch Castlereagh (1818).
In 1815 Byron married Anne Isabella Milbanke but the relationship came to an end the following year. Byron moved to Venice where he met the Countess Teresa Guiccioli, who became his mistress. Some of Byron's best known work belongs to this period including Don Juan. The last cantos is a satirical description of social conditions in England and includes attacks on leading Tory politicians.
Lord Byron also began contributing to the radical journal, the Examiner, edited by his friend, Leigh Hunt. Leigh Hunt, like other radical journalists had suffered as as result of the Gagging Acts and had been imprisoned for his attacks on the monarchy and the government.
In 1822 Byron, Leigh Hunt, and Percy Bysshe Shelley travelled to Italy where the three men published the political journal, The Liberal. By publishing in Italy they remained free from the fear of being prosecuted by the British authorities. The first edition was mainly written by Leigh Hunt but also included work by William Hazlitt, Mary Shelley and Byron's Vision of Judgement sold 4,000 copies. Three more editions were published but after the death of Shelley in August, 1822, the Liberal came to an end.
For a long time Lord Byron had supported attempts by the Greek people to free themselves from Turkish rule. This included writing poems such as The Maid of Athens (1810). In 1823 he formed the Byron Brigade and joined the Greek insurgents who had risen against the Turks. However, in April, 1824, Lord Byron died of marsh fever in Missolonghi before he saw anymilitary action.