Downton Abbey’s Byron

It turns out the Earl of Grantham might be a poet.

Newstead Abbey, photo by Andy Jakeman, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

Newstead Abbey as photographed by Andy Jakeman and  licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

When a family must be evicted, one that has held their tenancy at Downton for many generations, Lord Grantham gropes for a reason to let them stay:

“If we don’t respect the past,” he says, “we’ll find it harder to build our future.”

“Where did you read that?” asks the Dowager Countess.

“I made it up.”

“It’s too good,” she admonishes. “One thing we don’t want is a poet in the family. The only poet peer I am familiar with is Lord Byron and I presume we all know how that ended.”

A teasing remark a mother might make to her prosing son.

Still, the Dowager Countess must have been keenly aware that Byron’s finances, like the earl’s, were a mess. Moreover, the great Romantic owned an abbey, which had to be got rid of to pay his debts.

Clearly there exists some parallels between Baron Byron and the Earl of Grantham.

And they are just too appalling to contemplate.

Lord Byron on his Deathbed

Lord Byron on his Deathbed

7 thoughts on “Downton Abbey’s Byron

    • Let’s hope Julian Fellows doesn’t make Lord Grantham “a Lord Byron” type. Poor Lord Byron hadn’t a chance considering his family and upbringing. Lord Grantham seems more grounded and respectful of the institutions of his time. But, I could be wrong……….who knows how Fellows will twist the plot. Interesting comparison.


    • That scene was a focal point in spite of its obscurity–the tension between romanticism and practicality. What emerged in the Regency was still being played out right up until the second World War. Fellowes has often shown the hidden sides of a character well after they’ve been established in our minds as someone altogether different.

      Thank you for stopping by!


    • I’m so glad you think so–Byron also had three daughters (counting the child born to his half-sister). Clara Allegra died early, like Sybil. Ada grew up to be a countess like Mary. Elizabeth Medora ran off to have affairs, like Edith.

      Or perhaps these parallels are too attenuated. Who knows?


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