I heard thist story on this week's QI XL (Series L, episode "Lenses"), and it just confirms my opinion of Lord Byron as one of the strangest men ever to walk the earth.
Incest with half-sister? Check.
Drinking wine from a human skull? Check.
Culturally appropriating Eastern styles of dress to make you seem more exotic? Check.
Giving up poetry to go fight for Grecian independence? Check.
Swimming the Hellespont in spite of the dangers it normally provides, and the extended dangers of trying to do it with a club foot? Check.
Having a funky connection to hair in general? . . . Oh, definitely check.
Byron was a celebrity–and aristocrat in his own right, a wildly popular poet, and the King Kardashian of Attention Whores. It also didn't hurt that he was apparently very good looking.
"Dope boys lose they mind when they hear me comin'
All the haters get to runnin'."
So with all of that in mind, plus the fact that he was the hunkiest hunk to ever hunk the hunk, women went a little batshit over him. The would send him locks of their hair, as you do, with requests for some of his hair. And because he was Byron, he would send them hair cut from his dog and let them assume it was his.
That poor dog must have been half bald.
Also, what did he do with all that stranger-hair? Throw it away? Keep it? I hope he kept it, along with their letters. Firstly, it would make a really entertaining museum collection. Secondly, when obsessed people mail you parts of their body, you ALWAYS keep it in the event that you need to bring them to court. That's just good practice. Trust me. I was once a
corporate paralegal who had nothing to do with litigation, shut up.
If you think stranger-hair and reciprocal dog fur were enough, then you don't know Byron!!!
He became the lover of Lady Caroline Lamb (wife of William Lamb, Lord Melbourne, who was Prime Minister) in 1812 when they were in their mid-twenties. Lady Caroline was a liiiiittle bit intense, and decided after she read some of his poetry that she MUST meet Lord Byron. She coined the phrase that he was "mad – bad – and dangerous to know", but also said upon their meeting, 'That beautiful pale face is my fate.'
They had a torrid summer romance right in the middle of the aristocratic season that shocked London. She even contemplated leaving her husband for Byron, but as usual with such hot and heavy relationships, it couldn't last. Byron decided to leave her in August, so she sent him the most personal gift she could think of: her pubic hair.
The pubes were enclosed in a message that read . . . well . . . it sounds pretty damn crazy to those of us outside the relationship:
NEXT TO THYRSA DEAREST
& MOST FAITHFUL – GOD BLESS YOU
OWN LOVE – RICORDATI DI BIONDETTA
FROM YOUR WILD ANTELOPE
'I asked you not to send blood but Yet do – because if it means love I like to have it. I cut the hair too close & bled much more than you need – do not you the same & pray put not scissors points near where quei capelli grow – sooner take it from the arm or wrist – pray be careful….'
It's in serial killer capslock, she gives herself his last name, she asks God to bless him in the same breath that she calls herself his wild antelope, she asks him to send some of his blood . . . Oh, yeah, and there were GODDAMNED PUBES inside.
Nope. So much nope.
Bryon was oddly touched and kept writing to her, but the social strain was too much and he broke it off completely and took up with another older married woman. This was heartbreaking to Lady Caroline, since she and Byron continued to have to see each other at social events. She became a nervous and depressed wreck and began to abuse alcohol and laudnaum, from which she eventually died.