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Sunday, March 11

Lady Caroline Lamb

Caroline Ponsonby married William Lamb in 1805 with the expectation of inheriting wealth and riches, but her father-in-law was still living at the time of her death in 1828.

A woman of independent character who rarely conformed to society's expectations, "Caro" still provokes strong reactions to her life and work, and affair with Lord Byron in 1812.

"As a child she was a tomboy - and a spirit of recklessness and disdain for convention never left her. She had no formal education and was unable to read until late adolescence. But she was intelligent and witty; as an adult, she wrote poetry and prose and drew portraits. She was the first woman of Byron's class to captivate the poet completely. He treated Caroline badly after the grand infatuation faded. But while it lasted, he was demanding and possessive, goading her to admit she loved him more than her husband. He pursued her with abandon, once planning to flee England with her. Caroline's reaction to the break-up is understandable; Byron led her to believe he loved her. It was her sad fate to discover Byron's interpretation of love - a mad, passionate obsession which is abandoned as soon as curiosity and desire are sated." From English History net.

Byron 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.” Their brief but intense affair lasted only from March until August 1812, but it was to have longer lasting consequences for both of them.

Melbourne Hall, Home of Lady Caroline Lamb

Lady Caro's body of literary work has not fared well with critics over the ages. Of Glenarvon, her first novel in 1816, she wondered why "everybody wishes to run down and suppress the vital spark of genius I have, and in truth, it is but small (about what one sees a maid gets by excessive beating on a tinder-box). I am not vain, believe me, nor selfish, nor in love with my authorship; but I am independent, as far as a mite and bit of dust can be." Those who have judged her novels and poetry have treated them as an extension of her personality: at best the production of a neurotic mind, and at worst a devious attempt to hurt Byron.

Lady Caroline Ponsonby Lamb)(dghtr of Henrietta Spencer and Frederic Ponsonby, erd Earl of Bessborough, spouse of William Lamb, 2nd Visc. Melbourne)-painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence

"Lady Caroline certainly suffered when Byron ended their affair. She was threatened with a straitjacket several times subsequently. After Byron left England, however, her life did not devolve into complete histrionics. She published three novels, two accomplished parodies of Byron’s poetry, several poems in literary journals, and a number of songs — besides having worked up three other novel projects and a "pocket-diary" called Penruddock that she printed in England and sought to publish in Ireland. "

According to Wikipedia, "In 1824, she accidentally came across Byron's funeral cort├Ęge on its way to his burial place, and this incident drove her to a nervous breakdown, and rumoured insanity. She lived her last years in seclusion at Brocket Hall."

Learn more about Lady Caroline here.

Caro: The Lady Caroline Lamb Website

Lady Caroline Lamb


The Literacy Encyclopedia

Lord Byron: Letter to Lady Caroline Lamb

Lady Caro's letter to Lord Byron

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