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Archive for the ‘Lady Caroline Lamb’ Category

CarolinelambCaro and Byron were known to write to each other daily when their affair began and in the beginning they were equally enchanted by each other. Caro said in letters she wrote after the end of their affair, ‘Never while life beats in this heart shall I forget you or that moment when first you said you lov’d me – when my heart did not meet yours but flew before it‘  and Byron’s friend Robert Dallas wrote of Byron, ‘so enraptured, so intoxicated, that his time and thoughts were almost entirely devoted to reading her letters and answering them.’ On occasions they wrote four times a day to each other and Byron rarely attended the House of Lords at the beginning of their affair. But with a relationship of such high emotions there are frequently ups and downs, and Caroline, the lover of controversy worked hard to provoke Byron’s emotions. But before I tell you more, as usual, here is the background to this series of posts for anyone joining the blog today, for all those who’ve read it before just skip to the end of the italics where I have marked the text in bold.

I was drawn to Lady Caroline Lamb, who lived in the Regency era, because Harriette Wilson the courtesan who wrote her memoirs in 1825, mentions the Ponsonby and the Lamb family frequently. Also the story of Caroline’s affair with Lord Byron captured my imagination. Caroline was also a writer, she wrote poems, and novels in her later life. I have read Glenarvon.

Her life story and her letters sucked me further into the reality of the Regency world which is rarely found in modern-day books. Jane Austen wrote fictional, ‘country’ life as she called it, and I want to write fictional ‘Regency’ life rather than simply romance. But what I love when I discover gems in my research like Caroline’s story is sharing the real story behind my fiction here too.

Lady Caroline Lamb was born Caroline Ponsonby, on the 13th November 1785. She was the daughter of Frederick Ponsonby, Viscount Duncannon, and Henrietta (known as Harriet), the sister of the infamous Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire.

Caroline became an official lady when her grandfather died, and her father became Earl of Bessborough earning her the honorific title ‘Lady’ and she grew up in a world of luxury, even Marie Antoinette was a family friend. Caroline was always renowned as being lively, and now it is suspected she had a condition called bipolar. As a child she earned herself a title as a ‘brat’, by such things as telling her aunt Georgiana that Edward Gibbon’s (the author of The Decline and fall of the Roman Empire) face was ‘so ugly it had frightened her puppy’.

And when she grew up Byron once described Caroline as “the cleverest most agreeable, absurd, amiable, perplexing, dangerous fascinating little being that lives now or ought to have lived 2000 years ago.” 

ByronI think it is fairly common knowledge for people who know of Lord Byron that he was bisexual, and whether he spoke of his sexual preferences to Caroline, we do not know. But we do know that she divined that he approved of her dressing in men’s clothing which gave her a boyish appearance because both her letters and the records of others mention it. But then Byron did say in his poem Childe Harold, ‘Come hither, hither, my little page!‘ And Caro did, as I have said earlier in this series of posts, she had previously dressed in breeches and disguised herself as a young man, she did it for William remember, to hear his first speech to Parliament, and so she now used the disguise to visit Byron at his rooms in the Albany.

This is a letter she wrote to Byron’s valet. ‘Fletcher-Will you come and see me here some evening at 9, and no one will know of it. You may say you bring a letter and wait the answer. I will send for you in. But I will let you know first, for I wish to speak with you. I also want you to take the little foreign page I shall send in to see Lord Byron. Do not tell him before-hand but, when he comes with flowers, shew him in. I shall not come myself, unless just before he goes away; so do not think it is me. Besides, you will see this is quite a child, only I wish him to see my Lord if you can contrive it, which, if you tell me what hour is convenient, will be very easy. I go out of Town to-morrow for a day or two, and I am now quite well – at least much better.’

Robert Dallas recorded seeing her dressed as a page. ‘He was a fair-faced delicate boy of thirteen or fourteen years old, whom one might have taken for the lady herself. He was dressed in scarlet hussar jacket and pantaloons… He had light hair curling about his face, and held a feathered fancy hat in his hand. which completed the scenic appearance of this urchin Pandarus. I could not suspect at the time that it was a disguise; if so Byron never disclosed it to me…’ Dallas added at the end of the letter, though, that he could not, ‘precisely recollect the mode of the page’s exit.

Rumour’s must have been spreading too because Caro’s mother-in-law (who also slept with Byron) wrote to Caroline, and she recounted it to Byron ‘Yesterday I received a letter from Lady M saying these words – Caroline is there no end to your strange adventures, will nothing cure you – I hear but I do not believe that you have a female Page – if so do not hope to make me laugh at yr follies but these are crimes’  

That did not deter Caro, she was in love, completely and utterly fallen. She may have loved William when she married him but the love she had for Byron was the sort of love I like writing in my stories, the love that sweeps in like a bush fire and just takes over, and nothing will smother it. Byron was equally infatuated in the beginning, but I do not think it was ever love – for him it was lust. He was still writing to, and sleeping with, other women during their affair. So Caroline’s actions grew more and more desperate.

At the beginning of their affair she sent him a lock of her hair which had been cut when she was fourteen, ‘as you like curiosities I send you a relic of Lady Caroline Ponsonby aged 14 – & I request you keep it for her sake.’  By the 9th August 1812 she was cutting her pubic hair for him and sending him that with this letter.

Next to Thyrza Dearest

& most faithful – God bless you

own love – ricordati di Biondetta

From you wild Antelope

I asked you not to send blood but yet do – because if it means love I like to have it – I cut the hair too close & bled much more than you need – do not you the same o pray put no scizzors points near where quei capelli grow – sooner take it from the arm or wrist – pray be careful.’

Byron’s friend Rogers wrote of Caroline’s bold behaviour. ‘She absolutely besieged him after a great party at Devonshire House, to which Lady Caroline had not been invited,I saw her, – yes, saw her, – talking to Byron, with half of her body thrust into the carriage which he had just entered’ (I have loved this account of her body language for ages, it’s a beautiful reflection to apply to romance stories 😀 )

But as with her last affair Caroline’s inability to be discrete was making her the subject of scandal. Harryo wrote ‘Lord Byron is still upon a pedestal and Caroline William doing hommage.’

But Byron in his lust for Caro was willing to declare his equal adoration. He wrote in April 1812, ‘Every word you utter, ever line you write proves you to be either sincere or a fool, now as I know you are not the one I must believe you the other. I never knew a woman with greater or more pleasing talents. general as in a woman they should be. something of everything & too much of nothing, but these are unfortunately coupled with total want of common conduct – For instance the note to your page, do you suppose I delivered it? or did you mean that I should? I did not of course – Then your heart – my poor Caro, what a little volcano! that pours lava through your veins, & yet I cannot wish it to be a bit colder, to make a marble slab of. as you sometimes see (to understand my foolish metaphor) brought in vases tables &c from Vesuvius when hardened after an eruption – I have always thought you the cleverest most agreeable, absurd, amiable, perplexing, dangerous fascinating little being that lives now or ought to have lived 2000 years ago – I wont talk to you of beauty, I am no judge, but our beauties cease to be so when near you, and therefore you have either some or something better… All that you so often say, I feel, can more be said or felt? ( can more be said or felt – I love that last line)

Another way she tried to bind Byron to her was with gifts, she encouraged him to swap rings with her in a mock marriage ceremony and when she gave him a gold chain to induce more promises and allegiance, he wrote this to her…

 

Yet fain would I resist the spell

That would my captive heart retain,

For tell me dearest, is this well?

Ah Caro! do I need the chain

Nor dare I struggle to be free.

Since gifts returned but pain the giver.

And the soft band put on by thee,

The slightest chain, will last forever!’

 

Caro had kept these words from Byron, writing beside them. ‘These are the first lines Ld Byron wrote to me – I had made him a present of a gold neck chain and these lines were written at the moment

So for now I will leave them in their happiest moment and the next time I post on Caro I will come back to her affair with Byron and cover some of their less happier times. You can catch up on all the earlier parts of Caro’s story on the index .

If you would like to read my historical romance story that’s inspired by Caroline’s life it’s available now The Dangerous Love of a Rogue.  

Dangerous Love of a rogue from Zoe

The next story about sub-characters in The Dangerous Love of a Rogue is now also available preorder. The Jealous Love of a Scoundrel is Peter’s story. See below to order. 

Jealous_Love (3)

Peter’s Story can be found in the Magical Weddings, summer boxset, you can preorder on Amazon here, it is also available from other eBook suppliers. 

MagicalWeddings3D

Or grab any one of my books, with free novellas and full novels in the UK from £1.20 and in the USA from $1.99 

IMG_4415

Go to the index

For

  • the story of the real courtesan who inspired   The Illicit Love of a Courtesan,

Jane Lark is a writer of authentic, passionate and emotional Historical and New Adult Romance stories, and the author of a No.1 bestselling Historical Romance novel in America, ‘The Illicit Love of a Courtesan’.

Click here to find out more about Jane’s books, and see Jane’s website www.janelark.co.uk to learn more about Jane. Or click  ‘like’ on Jane’s Facebook  page to see photo’s and learn historical facts from the Georgian, Regency and Victorian eras, which Jane publishes there. You can also follow Jane on twitter at @janelark

Jane’s books can be ordered from amazon by clicking on the covers in the sidebar,  and are available from most booksellers.

 

 

 

 

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CarolinelambIn 1812 Britain’s aristocracy still feared a revolution. What had happened in France was a shadow living over Britain’s elite, and it was in this year that, having returned from his grand tour, Byron was finishing off his poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage which was based very loosely on his travels. He was a believer in fighting for the underdog. 1812 was also the year that Luddites were protesting against the installation of new looms for making cloth, which being much bigger required half the workers. These protesters instigated violent riots and smashed up the new frames. It was Lord Byron who spoke for the workers in the House of Lords. He was therefore not a man to mix much with the elite at the level Lady Caroline did at this time. So how did Lady Caroline become friendly with him? Well before I tell you let me run through the background to this series of posts for anyone new joining today, as always if you’ve read it before just skip to the end of the italics where I’ve marked the text in bold.

I was drawn to Lady Caroline Lamb, who lived in the Regency era, because Harriette Wilson the courtesan who wrote her memoirs in 1825, mentions the Ponsonby and the Lamb family frequently. Also the story of Caroline’s affair with Lord Byron captured my imagination. Caroline was also a writer, she wrote poems, and novels in her later life. I have read Glenarvon.

Her life story and her letters sucked me further into the reality of the Regency world which is rarely found in modern-day books. Jane Austen wrote fictional, ‘country’ life as she called it, and I want to write fictional ‘Regency’ life rather than simply romance. But what I love when I discover gems in my research like Caroline’s story is sharing the real story behind my fiction here too.

Lady Caroline Lamb was born Caroline Ponsonby, on the 13th November 1785. She was the daughter of Frederick Ponsonby, Viscount Duncannon, and Henrietta (known as Harriet), the sister of the infamous Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire.

Caroline became an official lady when her grandfather died, and her father became Earl of Bessborough earning her the honorific title ‘Lady’ and she grew up in a world of luxury, even Marie Antoinette was a family friend. Caroline was always renowned as being lively, and now it is suspected she had a condition called bipolar. As a child she earned herself a title as a ‘brat’, by such things as telling her aunt Georgiana that Edward Gibbon’s (the author of The Decline and fall of the Roman Empire) face was ‘so ugly it had frightened her puppy’.

And when she grew up Byron once described Caroline as “the cleverest most agreeable, absurd, amiable, perplexing, dangerous fascinating little being that lives now or ought to have lived 2000 years ago.” 

ByronByron was nervous about publishing Childe Harold because was trying to create a place for himself in the House of Lords, yet the poem contained an attack on Lord Elgin for taking the marble statues from the Pantheon. When he expressed his fears to his publisher, John Murray, John employed Samuel Rogers, who was also a poet, and a member of the elite network of society in which Caroline associated to gauge the potential reaction to Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage in society. Byron did not want to alienate himself.

Both Samuel and Caroline were frequent visitors at Holland House. The ‘Holland House Circle’, as they were known, contained the artistic set and several woman and men who were very fashionable in elite society.  Samuel Rogers therefore took advance copies of Childe Harold into this circle to share, to obtain reactions to it. One of these advance copies ended up in the hands of Caroline, who would have read Byron’s earlier work, and both one of her brothers, and her cousin Hart, knew Lord Byron through connections at Harrow and Cambridge.

Caroline, who loved to create controversy as much as Byron loved to support the underdog, was moved by the emotion captured in the poem, from the sense of loneliness in a crowd, to the expression for a lost love, and so when Childe Harold spoke about the ‘heartless parasites‘ of society, and a desire to leave England’s pretension and hypocrisy behind, Caroline’s imagination was captured. But as with many of Byron’s fans, she was not only captured by a connection to the character but she transposed the character Childe Harold onto Byron, and felt an attachment to the author. She urged Samuel Rogers to arrange an introduction to Lord Byron, but Samuel was wary of introductions. He was frequently only invited to dinner parties so he might bring his friend with him.

Caroline later said that Samuel sought to put her off an introduction by saying that Byron was unattractive and a nail biter with a club foot. To which Caroline answered, “If he is as ugly as Aesop, I must see him.” She would not be put off.

Childe Harold was published on the 3rd of March. On the 9th of March Caroline wrote a letter to Lord Byron.

(I am laughing, I only recently wrote my first ever letter to someone famous, weird, I come to this point in the story now. I cough awkwardly, and smile as I blush slightly. Then I’ll carry on. But P.S. it was definitely not in the manner of Caro to Byron. So carrying on…)

Tellingly, like many other women, she addressed her letter to Childe Harold, Byron’s character in the poem.

‘I have read your book & cannot refrain from telling you that I think it & that all those whom I live with & whose opinions are far more worth having – think it beautiful. You deserve to be and you shall be happy. (again in saying that she placed the emotion of his character on Byron’s shoulders) Do not throw away such Talents as you possess in gloom & regrets for the past & above all live here in your own Country which will be proud of you – & which requires you exertions. Pray take no trouble to find out who writes to you – it is one very little worth your notice & with whom you are unacquainted but who from the first has admired your great & promising Genius & who is now so delighted with what you have written that it would be difficult for me to refrain from telling you what I think.

As this is the first letter I ever wrote without my name & could not well put it, will you promise to burn it immediately & never to mention it? If you take the trouble you may very easily find out who it is, but I shall think less well of Childe Harold if he tries – though the greatest wish I have is one day to see him & be acquainted with him.’

But despite her protestations in the first letter that she wished to remain anonymous and did not wish him to try to find her, within two days she wrote a second letter. (Phew, I sigh, as I brush the back of my hand across my forehead, I am definitely not going crazy, I didn’t send a second letter 😉 I just wanted them to know I admired their work – I gulp – that still sounds too like Caro – weird feeling – but maybe it will appear in a historical plot line – everything happens for a purpose – I think this was for inspiration) In this letter, again, like many of those from Byron’s fans, Caro chose to mimic his poetry.

 

‘Oh that like Childe Harold I had power

With Master hand to strike the thrilling Lyre

To sing of Courts and Camps & Ladies Bower

And chear (her spelling – remember exact spelling didn’t exist then) the sameness of the passing hour

With verse that breathes from heaven and should to heaven aspire

Then all confiding  in my powerful art

With friends attentions & expressions kind

Ev’n I might Hope some solace to impart

To soothe a Noble but a wounded heart

And pay homage due to a superior mind…

Strong love I feel for one I shall not name-

What I should feel for thee could never be the same-

But Admiration interest is free-

And that Childe Harold may receive from me.’

 

After Childe Harold was published, although Byron had already published other work, he was suddenly adopted as a true genius by British society. ‘I awoke one morning and found myself famous’ he said once. The Regency poets really were the popstars of their era. His friend Thomas Moore called the women who wrote to Byron and flocked about him ‘star-gazers’ of which Caroline was truly one, but she, like I said above, she liked controversy, she did not wish to be like those other women.

The publishing of Childe Harold, or rather the fame and adulation Byron was bestowed with after the poem was published, opened the doors of the highest society to him. Thomas Moore later wrote of this time ‘in place of the desert which London had been to him but a few weeks before, he now… saw the whole splendid interior of the High Life thrown open to receive him.’ It was not long then before he and Caroline attended the same ball. He knew by then that she had written both the poem and the letter.

When Caroline saw him surrounded by women she chose to avoid him rather than seek an introduction and left the ball. She did not wish to be one of a crowd.

He was fascinated. Caroline came from an elite level of society he had at times mocked but also held aspirations to reach and so her interest in him was a huge complement, and also must have had some appeal to his spirit of feeling like an underdog winning. He therefore introduced himself to her at Holland House, where he knew he would find her. He challenged her about avoiding him at the ball, but she gave no reason, and yet she accepted his request that he might call on her.

Byron then became the chaser. The first time he called at Caroline’s home in Melbourne House in London, he arrived with Samuel Rogers, whom Caro was expecting. She had not expected Byron, and she wrote in her diary, ‘I had just come in filthy and hot from riding when they told me that not only was faithful old Mr Rogers in the drawing room. but he had brought with him another and a very different poet. Should I go up to my room and tidy myself before confronting him as I was? No my curiosity was too great and I rushed in to be introduced to his portent.

Byron made a study of Caroline in his calls on her, he sought to please her and amuse her, and was even known to have her much loved four-year-old son sit on his lap. As she had been with her husband, Caroline was charmed by Byron’s intellectual conversation, they discussed books, as Byron carefully identified all the things which she liked and would interest and engage her. He was a true Regency rake who knew how to manipulate women, his seduction was very calculated, but I do not think Caroline fought particular hard against it.

Her mother saw what was happening, and tried to warn him away, telling him that Caroline saw nothing in him and her interest was not of that manner. Her denial only egged Byron on (if you read my books you will recognize the attitude in the following words in one of my characters) ‘Her folly half did this, at ye. commencement she piqued that vanity (which it would the be the vainest thing on earth to deny) by telling me she was certain that I was not beloved.’

He gave Caroline a rose, with a note, which included some verse about his dog, as she liked dogs, saying ‘Your ladyship, I am told, likes all that is new and rare, for a moment.‘ of course he was referring to himself not the rose.

Caro invited Byron to a waltzing party on the 25th March. Caro loved waltzing. Byron hated it. He could not dance, he had a weak leg and a club foot, but he went and merely watched her dancing. He was invited to return the following evening with Thomas Moore, whom Byron wrote to, to advise him of the invitation. ‘Know all men by these presents that you, Thomas Moore, standing indicted-no-invited, by special and particular solicitation, to Lady C L**’s to-morrow evening, at half-past nine o’clock, where you will meet with civil reception and decent entertainment.’

On the 27th March Caroline wrote another letter to Byron.

Good Friday

The Rose Lord Byron gave Caroline Lamb died in despight of every effort made to save it; probably from regret at its fallen Fortunes. Hume at least, who is no great believer in most things, says that many more die of broken hearts than is supposed – when Lady Caroline Lamb returns from Brocket Hall, she will dispatch the Cabinet maker to lord Biron (Caro’s spelling) with the Flower she wishes most of all others to resemble, as, however deficient its beauty & even use, it has a noble and aspiring mind, &, having once beheld in its full lustre the bright unclouded Sun that for one moment condescended to shine upon it, never while it exists could it think any lower object worthy of its worship and Admiration-yet the sunflower was punished for its temerity but its fate is more to be envied than that of many less proud flowers it is still permitted to gaze though at the humblest distance, on him who is superiour to every other & though in this cold foggy atmosphere it meets no doubt with many disappointments & though it never could never will have reason to boast of any peculiar mark of condescension or attention from  the bright star to whom it pays constant hommage yet to behold it sometimes to see it gazed at to hear it admired will repay all – she hopes therefore when brought by the Little Page it will be graciously recieved without any more Taunts & cuts about “love of what is New” – Lady Caroline Lamb does not plead guilty to this most unkind charge at least no further than is laudable for that which is rare & is distinguished & singular ought to be more prized & sought after than what is common place & disagreeable – how can the other accusation of being easily pleased agree with this? The very circumstance of seeking out that which is of high value shows at least a mind not readily satisfied – But to attempt excuses for faults would be impossible with Lady Caroline – they have so long been rooted in soil suited to their growth that a far less penetrating gaze than Lord Byrons might perceive them – even on their shortest acquaintance – there is not one, however, though sorry indulged, that shall not be instantly got rid of if L Byron thinks it worth while to name them… The lines upon the the only dog ever lov’d by L Byron are beautiful. What wrong then that having such proof of the faith and friendship of this animal, L Byron should censure the whole race by the following unjust remarks!’  she then quoted four lines from Childe Harold about him ill-treating his dog.

But from this moment, their affair was on. They had both expressed a particular liking.

To be continued…

If you would like to read my historical romance story that’s inspired by Caroline’s life it’s available now The Dangerous Love of a Rogue.  

Dangerous Love of a rogue from Zoe

The next story about sub-characters in The Dangerous Love of a Rogue is now also available preorder. The Jealous Love of a Scoundrel is Peter’s story. See below to order. 

Jealous_Love (3)

Peter’s Story can be found in the Magical Weddings, summer boxset, you can preorder on Amazon here, it is also available from other eBook suppliers. 

MagicalWeddings3D

Or grab any one of my books, with free novellas and full novels in the UK from £1.20 and in the USA from $1.99 

IMG_4415

Go to the index

For

  • the story of the real courtesan who inspired   The Illicit Love of a Courtesan,

Jane Lark is a writer of authentic, passionate and emotional Historical and New Adult Romance stories, and the author of a No.1 bestselling Historical Romance novel in America, ‘The Illicit Love of a Courtesan’.

Click here to find out more about Jane’s books, and see Jane’s website www.janelark.co.uk to learn more about Jane. Or click  ‘like’ on Jane’s Facebook  page to see photo’s and learn historical facts from the Georgian, Regency and Victorian eras, which Jane publishes there. You can also follow Jane on twitter at @janelark

Jane’s books can be ordered from amazon by clicking on the covers in the sidebar,  and are available from most booksellers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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