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George Gordon Noel Byron was born, with a clubbed right foot, in London on 22 January 1788, the son of Catherine Gordon of Gight, an impoverished Scots heiress, and Captain John ("Mad Jack") Byron, a fortune-hunting widower with a daughter, Augusta.The profligate captain squandered his wife’s inheritance, was absent for the birth of his only son, and eventually decamped for France, an exile from English creditors, where he died in 1791 at thirty-six, the mortal age for both the poet and his daughter Ada.A revised and expurgated selection of verses appeared in January 1807 as , "By George Gordon, Lord Byron, A Minor," was published in June.The new poems in this first public volume of his poetry are little more than schoolboy translations from the classics and imitations of such pre-Romantics as Thomas Gray, Thomas Chatterton, Robert Burns, and James Macpherson’s Ossian, and of contemporaries including Walter Scott and Thomas Moore.Early schooling instilled a devotion to reading and especially a "grand passion" for history that informed much of his later writing.With the death in 1798 of his great-uncle, the "Wicked" fifth Lord Byron, George became the sixth Baron Byron of Rochdale, heir to Newstead Abbey, the family seat in Nottinghamshire.
Living extravagantly, he began to amass the debts that would bedevil him for years.
There can be little doubt that he had strong bisexual tendencies, though relationships with women seem generally, but not always, to have satisfied his emotional needs more fully.
In the summer of 1803 he fell so deeply in love with his distant cousin, the beautiful-and engaged-Mary Chaworth of Annesley Hall, that he interrupted his education for a term to be near her.
At Harrow (1801-1805), he excelled in oratory, wrote verse, and played sports, even cricket.
(After a quack doctor subjected him to painful, futile treatments for his foot, London specialists prescribed a corrective boot, later fitted with a brace, which the patient often refused to wear.) He also formed the first of those passionate attachments with other, chiefly younger, boys that he would enjoy throughout his life; before reaching his teen years he had been sexually initiated by his maid.
, printed at his expense and anonymously, collects the poems inspired by his early infatuations, friendships, and experiences at Harrow, Cambridge, and elsewhere.