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George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, later George Gordon Noel, 6th Baron Byron, FRS (22 January 1788 – 19 April 1824), commonly known simply as Lord Byron, was an English poet and a leading figure in the Romantic movement. Among Byron’s best-known works are the lengthy narrative poems Don Juan and Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage and the short lyric She Walks in Beauty. He is regarded as one of the greatest British poets and remains widely read and influential.

He travelled all over Europe especially in Italy where he lived for 7 years and then joined the Greek War of Independence fighting the Ottoman Empire, for which Greeks revere him as a national hero. He died one year later at age 36 from a fever contracted while in Missolonghi in Greece.

Often described as the most flamboyant and notorious of the major Romantics, Byron was celebrated in life for aristocratic excesses, including huge debts, numerous love affairs, rumours of a scandalous incestuous liaison with his half-sister, and self-imposed exile.

She Walks in Beauty

“She Walks in Beauty” is one of Byron’s most famous works. It was published in 1815 as a part of his volume Hebrew Melodies, which was set to music. The poem is said to have been inspired by an actual event in Byron’s life. By one account, while at a ball, Byron happened upon Mrs. John Wilmot, his cousin by marriage. He was struck by her unusual beauty, and the next morning the poem was written. She was in mourning, wearing a black dress set with spangles, which would explain the opening lines;

“ She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies ”

However, Nathan, in his reminiscences of Byron, indicates that the subject of the poem may have been….

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