MCM: Lord Byron

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He’s the original ‘mad, bad, and dangerous to know’ hottie — George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, usually known as Lord Byron (January 22, 1788 – April 19, 1824). A hugely influential Romantic poet, Byron is also the inspiration for the “Byronic” hero, both in his poetry and in his own life. He was immensely talented and personally magnetic yet deeply flawed, arrogant, and self-destructive. He was incredibly privileged and flouted social conventions. All of this made him and his poetry fascinating during his lifetime and ever since, and Lord Byron has appeared in historical costume movies and TV a few times as main character and often in cameos related to the many famous people he socialized with.

First, the historical figure…

1813 portrait of Byron by Richard Westall, from Wikimedia Commons.

1813 portrait of Byron by Richard Westall, from Wikimedia Commons.

1813 portrait of Byron in Albanian dress by Thomas Phillips, from Wikimedia Commons.

1813 portrait of Byron in Albanian dress by Thomas Phillips, from Wikimedia Commons.

And here are the onscreen versions…

 

Gavin Gordon in Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Gavin Gordon in Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

This seminal horror film is framed with the author, Mary Shelley, and her companions, Percy Shelley and Lord Byron, who has to mansplain things to Mary, ugh.

 

 

Dennis Price in The Bad Lord Byron (1949)

Dennis Price in The Bad Lord Byron (1949)

The first film wholly about his life, it was made as a series of flashbacks. Reportedly the flick is historically inaccurate and a box-office flop.

Dennis Price in The Bad Lord Byron (1949)

But I’m digging that skull goblet.

 

 

Richard Chamberlain in Lady Caroline Lamb (1972)

Richard Chamberlain in Lady Caroline Lamb (1972)

Lady Caroline was a fellow aristocrat and poet who termed Byron as ‘mad, bad, and dangerous to know.’ They had a tempestuous, scandalous affair in the 1810s.

Richard Chamberlain in Lady Caroline Lamb (1972)

Yeah, I know it looks very ’70s-dated, but I find Chamberlin is weirdly hot here.

 

 

Gabriel Byrne in Gothic (1986)

Gabriel Byrne in Gothic (1986)

The first in a run of frock flicks about the events in the summer of 1816 at Villa Diodati in Geneva, where Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley, and others gathered together and Mary eventually wrote Frankenstein. This one goes more spooky.

 

 

Philip Anglim in Haunted Summer (1988)

Philip Anglim in Haunted Summer (1988)

Same story as Gothic, this one goes slightly more romance-y.

 

 

Hugh Grant in Rowing With the Wind (1988)

Rowing With the Wind, 1988

Same story as Gothic and Haunted Summer, but with neither spookiness nor romance. Just Hugh Grant in lame costumes and bad hair.

Rowing With the Wind, 1988

And Mary Shelley yells at him. I would too.

 

 

Jason Patric in Roger Corman’s Frankenstein Unbound (1990)

Jason Patric in Roger Corman's Frankenstein Unbound (1990)

Another Frankenstein story, now with time-travel to a 19th century where Jason Patric is Byron, Bridget Fonda is Mary Shelley, and Michael Hutchence (of the band INXS, omg!) is Percy Shelley.

 

 

Christopher Clarke in Star Trek: Voyager, episode “Darkling” (1997)

Christopher Clarke in Star Trek: Voyager, episode "Darkling" (1997)

Because everyone loves a holodeck episode!

 

 

Jonny Lee Miller in Byron (2003)

Jonny Lee Miller in Byron (2003)

A lush two-part BBC production that gives the highlights of Byron’s life.

Jonny Lee Miller in Byron (2003)

Jonny Lee Miller plays him as a sympathetic rake, in search of greater meaning in life. It’s an appealing fantasy.

 

Matthew Rhys in Beau Brummell: This Charming Man (2006)

Matthew Rhys in Beau Brummell: This Charming Man (2006)

Lord Byron is a brief fascination and homoerotic temptation for Beau Brummell in this hot-hot-hot male biopic.

 

 

Mathew Baynton in Drunk History: U.K., episode 2.4 (2015)

Mathew Baynton in Drunk History: U.K., episode 2.4 (2015)

Everyone shuns this Byron because he fucked his sister. Sounds legit.

 

 

Tom Sturridge in Mary Shelley (2018)

Tom Sturridge in Mary Shelley (2018)

Coming soon, Byron in a shitty couch-upholstery robe. Thus wilts my hard-on for Tom Sturridge.

 

Do you love a byronic hero or Byron himself better?

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About the author

Trystan L. Bass

Twitter Website

A self-described ElderGoth, Trystan has been haunting the internet since the early 1990s. Always passionate about costume, from everyday office wear to outrageous twisted historical creations, she has maintained some of the earliest online costuming-focused resources on the web. Her costuming adventures are chronicled on her website, TrystanCraft. She also ran a popular fashion blog, This Is CorpGoth, dedicated to her “office drag.”

13 Responses

  1. Susan Pola Staples

    Besides his poetry, there’s thing about this manchild was his daughter, Ada Lovelace. But I wish they’d get him right in films. Maybe a new mini series for BBC. Best the 1,000,000,000,000 remake of (fill in book of your choice)

    Reply
  2. Nit-Picking Badger

    A rather fabulous Lord Byron (Guy Lancaster) complete with a chorus of fainting Regency fangirls appears at a party in which Coleridge and Wordsworth have a barney in Pandaemonium (2000). Alas cannot seem to easily find a screenshot but I remember him being rather dishy, with a gold earring and a great waistcoat….

    Reply
  3. History Nerd

    I had to comment just to squee over the Voyager episode included on this list! My two great loves, Star Trek and historical fashion, together in one place at last!!!

    Reply
    • Trystan L. Bass

      We’ve reviewed a Voyager episode before (search the site) & while we don’t review sci-fi as a rule, when it dips into historical, it’s fair game :)

      Reply
  4. Charity

    I wanna see Mary Shelley. I wonder if/when it’s going to a wide release stateside? :P

    There was a MENTION of Byron in Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, which amused me.

    Reply
  5. Shellie Eyre

    Lord B is buried in the parish church where many of my family were married and Christened (including me); our school carol services were held there and I was one of the church bell ringers for a while. I also had my wedding reception at Newstead Abbey.

    Reply
  6. Rikibeth

    Against all my better judgement, I love him. I also contend that if he were writing today, he’d be churning out Giant Fantasy Novel Bricks – have a look at “Darkness” sometime!

    As for “mad, bad, and dangerous to know”, my take is, how would YOU like it if your ex made an unflattering internet meme about you, and people still remembered it TWO HUNDRED YEARS LATER?

    Reply

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