The part he played or seemed to play in revolutionary politics endeared him to those who were struggling to be free. He stood for freedom of thought and of life. He made himself the mouthpiece of an impassioned and welcome protest against the hypocrisy and arrogance of his order and his race. He lived on the continent and was known to many men in many cities. It has been argued that foreigners are insensible to his defects as a writer, and that this may account for an astonishing and perplexing preference. The cause is rather to be sought in the quality of his art. It was as the creator of new types, "forms more real than living man," that Byron appealed to the artistic sense and to the imagination of Latin, Teuton or Slav. That "he taught us little" of the things of the spirit, that he knew no cure for the sickness of the soul, were considerations which lay outside the province of literary criticism. "It is a mark," says Goethe (Aus meinem Leben: Dichtung und Wahrheit, 1876, iii. 125), "of true poetry, that as a secular gospel it knows how to free us from the earthly burdens which press upon us, by inward serenity, by outward charm." Now of this "secular gospel" the redemption from "real woes" by the exhibition of imaginary glory, and imaginary delights, Byron was both prophet and evangelist.
Byron was 5 ft. 8 in. in height, and strongly built; only with difficulty and varying success did he prevent himself from growing fat. At five-and-thirty he was extremely thin. He was "very slightly lame," but he was painfully conscious of his deformity and walked as little and as seldom as he could. He had a small head covered and fringed with dark brown or auburn curls. His forehead was high and narrow, of a marble whiteness. His eyes were of a light grey colour, clear and luminous. His nose was straight and well-shaped, but "from being a little too thick, it looked better in profile than in front face." Moore says that it was in "the mouth and chin that the great beauty as well as expression of his fine countenance lay." The upper lip was of a Grecian shortness and the corners descending. His complexion was pale and colourless. Scott speaks of "his beautiful pale face - like a spirit's good or evil." Charles Matthews said that "he was the only man to whom he could apply the word beautiful." Coleridge said that "if you had seen him you could scarce disbelieve him... his eyes the open portals of the sun - things of light and for light." He was likened to "the god of the Vatican," the Apollo Belvidere.
The best-known portraits are: (1) Byron at the age of seven by Kay of Edinburgh; (2) a drawing of Lord Byron at Cambridge by Gilchrist (1808); (3) a portrait in oils by George Sanders (1809); (4) a miniature by Sanders (1812); (5) a portrait in oils by Richard Westall, R.A. (1813); (6) a portrait in oils (Byron in Albanian dress) by Thomas Phillips, R.A. (1813); (7) a portrait in oils by Phillips (1813); (8-9) a sketch for a miniature, and a miniature by James Holmes (1815); (10) a sketch by George Henry Harlow (1818); (11) a portrait in oils by Vincenzio Camuccini (in the Vatican) c. 1822; (12) a portrait in oils by W.H. West (1822); (13) a sketch by Count D'Orsay (1823). Busts were taken by Bertel Thorwaldsen (1817) and by Lorenzo Bartolini (1822). The statue (1829) in the library of Trinity College, Cambridge, is by Thorwaldsen after the bust taken in 1817.
The best editions of Lord Byron's poetical works are: (1) The Works of Lord Byron with his Letters and Journals and his Life, by Thomas Moore (17 vols., London, John Murray, 1832, 1833); (2) The Works of Lord Byron (1 vol., 1837, reissued, 1838-1892); (3) The Poetical Works of Lord Byron (6 vols., 1855); (4) The Works of Lord Byron, new, revised and enlarged edition, Letters and Journals, edited by G.E. Prothero, 6 vols., Poetry, edited by E.H. Coleridge (7 vols., 1898-1903); (5) The Poetical Works of Lord Byron, with memoir by E.H. Coleridge (1 vol., 1905).
The principal biographies, critical notices, memoirs, etc., are: - Journey through Albania... with Lord Byron, by J.C. Hobhouse (1812; reprinted in 2 vols., 1813 and 1855); Memoirs of the Life and Writings of ... Lord Byron [by Dr John Watkins] (1822); Letters on the Character and Poetical Genius of Lord Byron, by Sir E. Brydges, Bart. (1824); Correspondence of Lord Byron with a Friend (3 vols., Paris, 1824); Recollections of the Life of Lord Byron, by R.C. Dallas (1824); Journal of the Conversations of Lord Byron, by Capt. T. Medwin (1824); Last Days of Lord Byron, by W. Parry (1824); Narrative of a Second Visit to Greece, by E. Blaquiere (1825); A Narrative of Lord Byron's Last Journey to Greece, by Count Gamba (1825); The Life, Writings, Opinions and Times of Lord Byron (3 vols., 1825); The Spirit of the Age, by W. Hazlitt (1825); Memoir of the Life and Writings of Lord Byron, by George Clinton (1826); Correspondence of Byron and some of his Contemporaries, by J.H. Leigh Hunt (2 vols., 1828); Letters and Journals of Lord Byron, with Notices of his Life, by Thomas Moore (2 vols., 1830); The Life of Lord Byron, by J. Galt (1830); Conversations on Religion with Lord Byron, by J. Kennedy (1830); Conversations of Lord Byron with the Countess of Blessington (1834); Critical and Historical Essays, by T.B. Macaulay, i. 311-352 (1843); Lord Byron jugé par les témoins de sa vie (1869), My Recollections of Lord Byron, by the Countess Guiccioli (1869); Lady Byron Vindicated, A History of the Byron Controversy, by H. Beecher Stowe (1870); Lord Byron, a Biography, by Karl Elze (1872); Kunst und Alterthum, Goethe's Sämmtliche Werke (1874), vol. xiii. p. 641; Memoir of the Rev. F. Hodgson (2 vols., 1878); The Real Lord Byron, by J.C. Jeaffreson (2 vols., 1883); A Selection, etc., by A.C. Swinburne (1885); Records of Shelley, Byron and the Author, by E.J. Trelawny (1887); Memoirs of John Murray, by S. Smiles (2 vols., 1891); Poetry of Byron, chosen and arranged by Matthew Arnold (preface) (1892); The Siege of Corinth, edited by E. Kölbing (1893); Prisoner of Chillon and other Poems, edited by E. Kölbing (1896); The Works of Lord Byron, edited by W. Henley, vol. i. (1897); A. Brandl's "Goethes Verhältniss zu Byron," Goethe Jahrbuch, zwanzigster Band (1899); Main Currents in Nineteenth Century Literature, by G. Brandis (6 vols., 1901-1905), translated from Hauptströmungen der Literatur des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts, 4 Bde. (Berlin 1872-1876); Chambers's Cyclopaedia of English Literature, vol. iii. (1903) art. "Byron," by T. Watts Dunton; Studies in Poetry and Criticism, by J. Churton Collins (1905); Lord Byron, sein Leben, etc., by Richard Ackermann; Byron, 3 vols. in the Biblioteka velikikh pisatelei pod redaktsei, edited by S.A. Vengesova (St Petersburg, 1906): a variorum translation; Byron et le romantisme français, by Edmond Estève (1907).
(E. H. C.)
 An anonymous work entitled The Life, Writings, etc. of ... Lord Byron (3 vols., 1825) purports to give "Recollections of the Lately Destroyed Manuscript." To judge by internal evidence (see "The Wedding Day," etc. ii. 278-284) there is some measure of truth in this assertion, but the work as a whole is untrustworthy.