- The International Byron Societies 2014–2015
- The Byron Society
2014 was a successful year for the Byron Society. New members joined and events were well attended. On 23 January Dr. Adam White spoke eruditely and wittily on ‘Darkness in Byron’s Poetry’. In February a young actor read ‘Ten Letters of Lord Byron’, well-chosen by our Chairman Ken Robbie. March saw a vigorous debate between Peter Cochran and Bernard Beatty on the merits of Childe Harold.
The Annual General Meeting in May was preceded by a walk round the National Portrait Gallery looking at relevant paintings, with commentary from the present Lord Byron and Ken Robbie. The Meeting was mostly taken up by discussion of the Accounts. The Society remains well funded.
The 40th International Association of Byron Societies Conference took place in Tbilisi in June. Byron remains extremely popular internationally and interesting papers were presented from delegates from many parts of the world. I was glad to encounter again many delegates who had also attended the conference at King’s College, London the year before.
In July there was an event organised by our Treasurer Richard Davis, an excursion to Olney to see the museum devoted to the poet William Cowper, whose work was much read and critically acclaimed during the lifetime of Lord Byron. We also visited a nearby village Weston Underwood, where we had lunch and walked to Cowper’s Alcove. The beautiful surrounding countryside was a source of inspiration for many of Cowper’s poems.
There was a joint venture with Keats House, Corporation of London in September. It was the first time the Society had shared an event with Keats House. Christine Kenyon Jones braved explaining Byron’s views on Keats. There is to be another such event this year.
In November the Byron Society put on a free public lecture at Senate House. Sir J. Drummond Bone spoke on the ‘Romantic Mundane’. Both this and the Keats House events were successful attempts to reach out to a wider public.
The Christmas lunch took place at the East India Club. Argyros Protopapas spoke on Science and Shelley, and Ken Robbie played some vintage recordings of actors reading Byron.
Regular events of the Byron Society are now held at the Art Workers’ Guild, 6, Queen Square, WC1N 3AT. This central and historic venue is proving popular with the membership.
- Scottish Byron Society
The main event on the literary calendar in Scotland on 6 November 2014 was the annual John Murray Archive Lecture given by Mary O’Connell, ‘Lord Byron and John Murray II: an extraordinary publishing relationship’. This was a joint Edinburgh Bibliographical Society and National Library of Scotland event. This has been enthusiastically facilitated by NLS JMA curator David McClay, both over the period of scholarly archival [End Page 79] research and the celebratory lecture event upon publication of Mary’s book.
On 15 January 2015 the IABS joint honorary treasurer for once had the privileged opportunity to talk on a subject, other than money, to the Edinburgh Spanish Circle, on ‘Byron and Spain: the journey July–August 1809 and its literature’. This invitation arose in consequence of Professor Richard Cardwell’s lecture on ‘Byron and Spain’ at the National Library two years earlier. This gave great pleasure in recollection of Eric Wishart’s two exploratory visits between Cintra and Valladolid in 2010–2011 when arrangements were being made for the Valladolid conference on Byron and Latin Culture.
In consequence of meeting Russian Byron Society delegates at Tbilisi in June 2014, a happy contact gave rise to the opportunity to arrange literary research time in Edinburgh for two weeks in January 2015 for Tatiana Gurievich on her major De Quincey thesis. Whereas most lay readers associate De Quincey with the Lakers, in fact a big part of his life was spent as a prolific literary journalist in Edinburgh and Tatiana required access to Edinburgh University’s latest 21–volume set of his edited letters. If Byron had ever been fated to grow old and get back to Scotland he and De Quincey would have had interesting conversations.
29 April 2015 sees Professor Tom...