Byron and the Victorians

This book is the first full-length study of Byron’s influence on Victorian writers, concentrating on Carlyle, Emily Brontë, Tennyson, Bulwer Lytton, Disraeli, and Wilde. It has two emphases, theoretical and literary-historical. Its theoretical project is to revise earlier understanding of literary influence through a demonstration of the ways that institutions of cultural production mediate the access that later writers have to earlier ones. Its literary-historical project is to suggest the many different responses that Victorian writers had to Byron and to his celebrity in British culture. It argues that defining oneself against Byron became a ritual of the Victorian authorial career. Victorian writers did not reject Byron outright: instead, they defined themselves through fictions of personal development away from values associated with Byron towards those associated with themselves as mature Victorian writers.

• First full-length study of Byron’s influence on later Victorian writers • Offers a new, historicised understanding of literary influence • Using poetry, novels, and non-fiction it offers a new complex picture of Victorian literary history


Introduction; 1. Byron and the secret self; 2. The creation of Byronism; 3. Carlyle, Byronism, and the professional intellectual; 4. Byron at the margins: Emily Brontë and the fate of Milo; 5. The flight from vulgarity: Tennyson and Byron; 6. The shady side of the sword: Bulwer Lytton, Disraeli, Wilde, and Byron’s homosexuality; Afterword.