Misanthrope or Friend of Man? Revising the Byronic Hero with Gale Primary Sources

The reception of Lord Byron at Missolonghi by Theodoros Vryzakis

By Harry Walker, Gale Ambassador at the University of Birmingham

“I stood among them, but not of them.” This famous quote is from Lord Byron’s poetry and one which formed the basis of the discussion in my final essay at university. The line is taken from his early work, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, and has come to epitomise the “Byronic hero’s” attitude towards sociability for posterity, portraying him as a misanthropic, isolated figure. My essay argued that the idea of the “Byronic hero” as a misanthrope was more complex than this quote in isolation would suggest. My essay was naturally, being a literature essay, focused on the manifestation of this idea in his poetry. However, it was useful to support my argument with contextual details about his own social life, seeing as the “Byronic hero” is semi-autobiographical. This is where I found Nineteenth Century Collections Online and Gale Literature: Dictionary of Literary Biography to be instrumental. This blog post shows how I used these great resources to support my argument.

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‘Who knows to suffer, Conquer, and to Save’ – Scottish Romanticism and the Jacobites

A king without a throne, a dashing young prince, and an army of exiles. These basic components of Jacobitism – with some misty lochs, rugged Highlanders, scheming Catholics and royal courts thrown in – lend themselves perfectly to high Romance and adventure. It is no surprise then, that the Stuarts and their Jacobite supporters provided inspiration for early Scottish Romanticism, evident in the works of authors such as Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson, the poetry of Robert Burns, and popular tunes like The Skye Boat Song. With a core narrative of brave young men fighting a doomed cause against an oppressive regime, (particularly embodied in the merciless Duke of Cumberland), the stories surrounding the two Jacobite risings remain popular today, as the recent success of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series of historical novels has shown.

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