Byron's Women
Alexander Larman

Byron's Women

Catherine was the long-suffering mother who bore him; Annabella the wife he sodomized and abused; Ada their sickly but brilliant daughter. With Caroline he conducted a scandalous affair; with Claire an opportunistic and cruel one. Claire’s stepsister Mary was the wife of his fellow poet Shelley, with whom he spent the dark summer of 1816. In Teresa’s bed, he found comfort during his years of Italian exile. But his true love was Augusta, his half-sister; and Medora was the fruit of their incest.


Nine women; one misbehaving poet; George Gordon, Lord Byron. The most flamboyant of the Romantics, he wrote literary bestsellers, was a satirist of genius, embodied the Romantic love of liberty and was the prototype of the modern celebrity. Yet he treated the women close to him abominably.


In Byron’s Women, Alexander Larman tells their extraordinary, moving and often shocking stories. In so doing, he creates both a troubling and fascinating portrait of one of England’s greatest poets, and an affecting sequence of accounts of the lives of women at the dawn of modernity. All nine of ‘Byron’s women’ are a remarkable reminder, decades before universal suffrage and female emancipation, that intelligent women could lead lives considerably richer than those of dutiful wives and producers of children.


Byron’s Women was shortlisted for the 2017 Elma Dangerfield Prize. 

Book Details:

  • Author: Alexander Larman
  • Published Year: 2017
  • Rights Sold
    • UK: Head of Zeus
    • China: Shanghai Culture Publishing House

Alexander Larman

Alexander Larman is an author and journalist. His most recent book, The Crown in Crisis (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2020) is a revelatory history of the abdication saga, using new and previously unknown material to tell the thrilling untold story of the political and legal machinations that led to Edward VIII’s renunciation of the throne. His previous books include Byron’s Women (Head of Zeus, 2016), an ‘anti-biography’ of the famous poet that focused on nine of the key women in his life, Restoration (Head of Zeus, 2016), a social and narrative history of the year 1...
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Book Reviews

  • "Normally I don't like modish reassessments of literary legends ... however, Byron's Women is different. It isn't a tiresome feminist rant ... it is humane and brooks no balderdash. This radical questioning of the conventional swashbuckling Byronic stance is convincing."
    Roger Lewis, The Times.
  • "Larman's stagey indignation has an undeniable draw. The resourceful gossipmonger… is a busy and loquacious guide who palpably enjoys his job."
    Sunday Telegraph
  • "Larman gives his coterie "the dignified and compassionate treatment they deserve" in a series of sympathetic biographical sketches…"
    Literary Review
  • "Through deft and witty touches, Larman irradiates the darkness of Byron's fascination'."
    Mail on Sunday
  • "Larman has written a superbly researched, well-balanced and very readable account of the convoluted story, akin to a Georgian soap opera, and resisting what must have been an overwhelming temptation to condemn the selfish and deeply unpleasant man too much."
    The Bookbag
  • "A fresh and lively contribution to the crowded field of Byron studies, and confirms Larman as an insightful observer of the contradictory nature of his subjects."
  • "This is no ordinary biography; through exploring the lives of the women in his life, we are offered an outline of Byron more accurate, compelling and candid than any portrait focused on his poetry could be'."
  • "Dashing, scandalous and irresistibly attractive, Byron would have been shocked to find himself not the main subject of Larman's narrative, but relegated to a supporting role in the remarkable stories of the significant women in his life."
    Daily Mail
  • "Incredible."
    Daily Express
  • "a well-researched, fascinating look at Byron’s life and times."
    Publishers Weekly