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Jan 22

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January 22: Lord Byron

Lord Byron (1788)

George Gordon, Lord Byron

It was on this date, January 22, 1788, that English poet George Gordon, Lord Byron, was born in London. He became radicalized and skeptical of religion during his student years at Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1806 he had Fugitive Pieces, printed. But the Rev. John Beecher objected to some of the poems, so Byron withdrew his first book of poetry.

From his youthful scorn for Christianity, Byron moderated into a Deistic belief, yet he maintained a friendship with Percy Bysshe Shelley, an Atheist. He remained skeptical of churches and toward life after death. As Byron wrote in an 1811 letter to Rev. Francis Hodgson,

I do not believe in any revealed religion. I will have nothing to do with your immortality; we are miserable enough in this life, without the absurdity of speculating upon another.*

And in his 1819 epic poem, Don Juan, Byron wrote,

Christians have burnt each other, quite persuaded
That all the Apostles would have done as they did.

Byron’s first major biographer, Thomas Moore, says he was “to the last a sceptic.”** Still, there was enough of the youthful radical in Byron to compel him to help the Greeks fight for independence. He caught a fatal chill in the effort and died on 19 April 1824.

* Letter of June 18, 1813. ** Thomas Moore, Letters and Journals of Lord Byron; with Notices of his Life, 2 vols., 1830-31.

Originally published January 2004.

About the author

Ronald Bruce Meyer

Freethought Almanac was created by Ronald Bruce Meyer, in collaboration with freethoughtradio.com, in March 2003. What started with a brief notice on the birthday of Albert Einstein, grew into almost 250,000 words on not only biography but history, philosophy, theology and politics — one day at a time. Freethought Almanac looks at these daily subjects from a godless point of view, that is, a point of view that is based not on fantasies, delusions or wishful thinking, but a view that is evidence-based.

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