I’m going to take a wee break here to do a little section on Lord Byron’s wife, Annabella (my wife’s mother was Annabelle), a section based (virtually entirely) on a new book I recently read, Lady Byron and Her Daughters, by Julia Markus.
Although I ended my intensive (obsessive? maniacal?) research on Mary Shelley and Frankenstein a number of years ago, I’ve still tried to read the most prominent works that have appeared, works that deal with her—or with others in her circle. There’s no way to read it all: Scholars who dig into the lives of Mary, Bysshe, Lord Byron, Mary Wollstonecraft, William Godwin, and the others in her circle are relentless in their pursuits, and all I can do is stand nearby in wonder at all their excavations.
But I did want to read this book, mostly because I know very little about Lady Byron—just that their marriage (January 1, 1815) was brief, that Lord Byron’s life was so overpoweringly interesting (in ways negative and positive) that some of his biographers have neglected Lady Byron somewhat—some even portraying her in unflattering, even black light. What appealed to me as well—it was just about a year and a half after their wedding (their marriage over) that Byron, in the summer of 1816, rented the Villa Diodati overlooking Lake Geneva, the villa where Frankenstein would be born. He had already impregnated Mary’s step-sister, Claire Clairmont (as I’ve written about earlier).
I began reading Lady Byron on January 19, 2016, finished it on March 12. I’m not really a slow reader (eight weeks to read a 321-page book!); I was just reading numerous other things simultaneously—and trying to figure out how I would work Lady Byron’s story (or pieces of it) into my narrative about Mary. I still haven’t figured that out. But I’m going to write about the book a bit in the next few posts and, later, will prune and replant what I am certain will be a bush far too leafy.