Annabella Byron is rescued from more than a century of bad press

5166Kathryn Hughes at The Guardian:

“Oh! What an instrument of torture I have acquired in you,” Byronfamously exclaimed on first beholding his baby daughter Ada, leaving it unclear whether he saw himself as the scourger or the scourged. In truth, it was probably a bit of both. Within six months the poet had left Britain and would never see either his daughter or his wife Annabella again. He spent the next decade racketing around the continent writing verse that was beautiful and scabrous by turns, and intervening in foreign conflicts that were actually none of his business. Annabella Byron, meanwhile, morphed from wretched bride into a queenly philanthropist, who was equally certain that she knew what was best for other people. Baby Ada, by contrast, grew up to be mostly interested in herself. She was, she announced proudly, a genius.

The story of this unhappy trio has been told before, but seldom with as much brio as it is here. Miranda Seymour’s particular aim is to rescue Annabella from over a century’s worth of bad press. Everyone, detractors and advocates alike, agrees that at the age of 22 she was too naive to see how stupid it was to pester Byron into marrying her when he was clearly only after her fortune. She’d always had a thing about Jane Austen’s Mr Darcy and thought Byron was cut from the same cloth.

more here.