News & Notes

San Marco news, hot off the presses.

No More a Roving

No More a Roving

In common with much of Europe, I have not ventured far from home in several months. Shopping for essentials, daily exercise and very little else. There has been a great deal of time for thinking, and early on I came to the conclusion that I was more or less living the...

The Carnival closed last night.

The Carnival closed last night.

February 19th 1817: Ash Wednesday, and the Carnival festivities in Venice have come to an end for another year. Byron, newly-returned from a masked ball at Gran Teatro La Fenice, writes a short letter to his sister Augusta, apologising for his brevity thus, I have...

A lovelier toy sweet nature never made

A lovelier toy sweet nature never made

January 12th 1817. Although he will not know of it for some time, on this day Lord Byron becomes a father again, with the birth of Claire Clairmont’s daughter. The child is born in Bath, the early nineteenth century resort for ladies who are “unwell” and needing...

Being the feast of St Stephen

Being the feast of St Stephen

26th December 1816: the feast of Santo Stefano, or St Stephen, and also the first day of the six-week long Venetian carnival. And so Byron finds ...all kinds of conceits and divertissements on every canal of this aquatic city... He spends the evening at the opera, at...

I have fallen in love…

I have fallen in love…

25th November 1816, and Byron is writing to his publisher in London, John Murray, to tell him how quickly he has settled into Venetian life, and how comfortable he is in Venice. For one thing, the city keeps the sort of late hours which suit him, ... the theatres are...

A boatman cried out to us, “The Rialto!”

A boatman cried out to us, “The Rialto!”

It is four o’clock on a cold, wet November afternoon, and Lord Byron is in Mestre, bad-tempered because of the weather and because he has just been offered a very poor dinner. He has spent the previous week trundling slowly across the nothern Italian plain from Milan,...

My dearest Augusta – You see I have got to Milan

My dearest Augusta – You see I have got to Milan

It is mid-October 1816, and Byron and Hobhouse are settled in lodgings in Milan. Their journey from Switzerland to Italy has been remarkably straightforward, since they have crossed the Alps via the Simplon Pass, a feat of engineering created at the command of...

The clouds above me to the white Alps tend

The clouds above me to the white Alps tend

It is September 29th 1816. Byron and Hobhouse have returned to Diodati from their ten-day tour of the Alps, a lengthy exploration in which they have travelled by a combination of open carriage, horseback and on foot. They have completed a circular tour which has taken...

Shatter’d nerves and quicken’d pulses

Shatter’d nerves and quicken’d pulses

Autumn - and Byron’s friend John Hobhouse – arrived in Geneva more or less simultaneously, bringing a blast of fresh air to Villa Diodati after many – maybe too many - evenings of ghost stories and metaphysical speculation. Hobhouse was the sort of Englishman who...

And from the mountains where I now respire

And from the mountains where I now respire

26th August 1816, and two of Byron’s closest friends, John Cam Hobhouse and Scrope Berdmore Davis, arrive at the Villa Diodati in Geneva. They find their friend in a somewhat melancholy mood; hardly surprising given his turbulent year so far. His mental state may be...