Duet Dialogues: Byron and the Adultery Letter

by Emily Paterson Morgan

5.30-7.30pm, Edinburgh, Scotland, St Cecilia’s Hall

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3rd Annual Scotland Lecture

Wine reception 5.30 pm

Lecture at 6.00-7.00 pm

Tickets here


Drawing on materials from the John Murray Archive, Dr Emily Paterson-Morgan will discuss one of the most peculiar and – frankly – ludicrous episodes in Byron’s extremely complex love life: the brief, passionate, yet ultimately unconsummated affair with Lady Frances Webster which allegedly started during a game of billiards.

Sally Holloway recently established the ‘practical and emotional importance of letter writing’ in the construction and maintenance of adulterous relationships in Georgian England, defining the adultery letter as a distinct discourse, characterised by what Byron calls the ‘chequered exchange’ of love and jealousy.  This lecture uses Holloway’s analysis of the ‘distinguishing features of adulterous letters’ to examine Byron’s deliberate emulation of this epistolary mode in his ‘duet dialogues’ with Lady Frances Webster, and considers what this tells us about the practical logistics and emotional pressures of infidelity in Georgian England.