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LiteratEye #33: The Horror Story Byron Didn’t Write Made His Rep as a Vampire

Filed under: Literary Hoaxes

Here’s the thirty third installment of LiteratEye, a series found only on The Art of the Prank Blog, by W.J. Elvin III, editor and publisher of FIONA: Mysteries & Curiosities of Literary Fraud & Folly and the LitFraud blog.

LiteratEye #33: The Horror Story Byron Didn’t Write Made His Rep as a Vampire
By W.J. Elvin III
October 2, 2009

bela_200“Everywhere you look in entertainment these days, you see vampires.” It was cultural critic Johanna Schneller who stuck her neck out to make that observation, quoted in The Week magazine.

Vampires everywhere. Well, then, wouldn’t it be just the right time for a film focusing on suspicions that literature’s premier bad boy, George Gordon, Lord Byron, was a vampire?

Yes, of course, you say, the more vampires the better. And by the way, who is this GGLB character?

Byron is considered a poetic genius on par with greats like Milton or Dryden, but it is his orgiastic personal life that draws most of the attention he gets today. His work still sells – I just saw a six-volume set of his collected works on eBay. He wrote some exquisite, memorable lines – ‘She walks in beauty like the night’ – but the language of the bulk of it is undoubtedly foreign to modern readers.

It used to be, you described someone as “Byronic” and any literate person knew just what you meant. The brooding, mysterious, rebellious poet of later times is a knock-off of the image Byron created for himself.

He was the sort modern publishers hunger for, a master of manipulating his own image into a creation that fascinated the public, thereby enhancing sales of his books. Of recent authors, he calls to mind Ernest Hemingway, a writer who lived much of his legend but also made certain he got plenty of publicity as a result. (more…)