DARK SUMMERS

1.  Lord Byron 1816-1822 — Introduction

DARK SUMMERS is a fresh look at Lord Byron's fateful encounters with Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley, and Claire Claremont. Other less central figures include John Polidori, Edward Trelawny, and Theresa Guiccioli.

The main point at issue is the paternity of Lord Byron's alleged illegitimate daughter, Allegra, in which the author's view is that Byron is more sinned against than sinner. Shelley is perceived as manipulative, with a perverse need to control the people in his circle, while Mary Shelley is seen as a morally ambiguous figure.

One can sympathise with the Mary who is dominated by her husband and frightened that his excesses will endanger the little respectablity she has left, but not with the Mary who permits herself to be used by Shelley as a pawn in his voyeuristic sexual games. The menage-a-trois with T.J.Hogg is a matter of record, but with hindsight we can see that Shelley was using Mary to draw Byron's friend Edward Trelawny and even Byron himself into his net. But Lord Byron was much more worldly-wise that either Trelawny or Hogg, and he was not an easy victim.