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Lead book review

Lord Byron had many faults, but writing dull letters wasn’t one of them

Andrew Stauffer traces the poet’s tumultuous life through some of the most remarkable missives in the English language

17 February 2024

9:00 AM

17 February 2024

9:00 AM

Byron: A Life in Ten Letters Andrew Stauffer

Cambridge University Press, pp.401, 25

In 1814, at the height of his fame, the poet, libertine and freedom fighter Lord Byron had his head examined. Not by a proto-psychiatrist but by the German phrenologist and physician Johann Spurzheim, who, after making a detailed study of the no doubt amused Byron’s cranium, pronounced the brain to be ‘very antithetical’ and said that it was an organ in which ‘good and evil are at perpetual war’.

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