Katha Pollitt in Slate
Not many writers furnish enough material for a biography focused entirely on their love lives. In his short life (1788-1824), George Gordon, Lord Byron, managed to cram in just about every sort of connection imaginable—unrequited pinings galore; affairs with aristocrats, actresses, servants, landladies, worshipful fans, and more in almost as many countries as appear on Don Giovanni's list; plus countless one-offs with prostitutes and purchased girls; a brief, disastrous marriage; and an incestuous relationship with his half-sister. And that's just the women! It's a wonder he found the time, considering everything else on his plate. He composed thousands of pages of dazzling poetry, traveled restlessly on the continent and in the Middle East, maintained complex relationships with friends and hangers-on, wrote letters and kept diaries and read books constantly, boxed and took fencing lessons and swam, drank (prodigiously), suffered bouts of depression and paranoia and physical ill-health, and, in his later years, joined in Italian and Greek liberation struggles. Just tending the menagerie that he liked to have about him—monkeys, parrots and macaws, dogs, a goat, a heron, even, while he was a student at Cambridge, a bear—would have driven a lesser man to distraction.