“Mad, bad and dangerous to know” was Lady Caroline Lamb’s spot-on assessment of Lord Byron’s character. Yet she fell hard for the Regency bad boy, and the two embarked on a four-month affair in 1812 that rocked London’s fashionable world.
Byron broke it off—he had the reputation of being more interested during the chase than after the capture.
But Caroline, or Caro as he nicknamed her, refused to go quietly. She pursued Byron, caused scenes in public, and even showed up at his house ALONE (scandalous behavior) dressed as a boy page (even more scandalous behavior). Finally, Byron sent her a brutally frank letter in 1813.
“That it is in a great measure owing to this persecution—to the accursed things you have said—to the extravagances you have committed—that I again adopt the resolution of quitting this country.”
Byron did in fact leave for the Continent in 1816 and never returned to England, dying eight years later in Greece. Whether he left because of Lady Caroline’s unwanted attentions or because his own sexual proclivities were too hot for English society I’ll leave to you to decide.
It’s unfortunate that Lady Caroline is remembered primarily for her notorious affair with Byron. She was a witty, unconventional woman, a clever mimic and an author, whose Gothic novel Glenarvon was a best seller.
I also find it interesting that Byron and Lady Caroline, who seem perfectly suited to our modern world of celebrity culture and reality TV, inhabited the same era as Jane Austen and her literary creations.
You can read the full text of Byron’s letter to Caroline here, in facsimile and/or typed transcription.