Byron Plagiarised Werner

 

According to Frederick Leveson-Gower in an article in The New York Times dated Septemeber 2nd 1899 his Grandmother wrote it and not Byron

Frederick Leveson-Gower

1819-1907

in his account

Son of first Earl Granville

educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford

BA, 1840

called to bar, 1846

Liberal MP for Derby, 1846-7, Stoke-upon-Trent, 1852-7, and Bodmin, 1859-85

chairman of National School of Cookery, 1874-1903

visited India, 1850-1, and Russia, 1856

a conspicuous figure in society

edited his mother's Letters (1894) and published Bygone Years (1905)

 

The Following Document signed by the man who accused Byron of plagiarising Werner

Original autograph letter from Gower dated Sunday from Purton to Rawlings:

"I do not wish the Morning Post to be sent to me as there is nothing in it at this time of year, only the Illustrated London News."

Letter signed by Fred L Gowers

 

Mounting traces on right edge of reverse. Paper loss on left edge and tear top left. Tape on back to repair tears at bottom and along top fold. Grubby.

2 horizontal original mailing folds.

 

 

"WERNER."

Frederick Leveson-Gower Says His Grandmother, Not Byron, Wrote It.

 

The New York Times Published September 2, 1899

Georgiana and Byron: Literary Intersections

By Jonathan Gross

Jonathan Gross is the editor of Emma, or the Unfortunate Attachment (SUNY) and The Sylph (Northwestern), two epistolary novels attributed to Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire.

 

As Byronists prepare to see "The Duchess," a new film about Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, based on the biography of the same name by Amanda Foreman, they might inevitably ask the question: At what point did Lady Georgiana and Lord Byron cross literary paths?

 

The most obvious answer to this question is Georgiana's house was Byron's marital residence. Lady Melbourne rented Devonnshire House for Lord Byron and his new wife, Annabella Milbanke, at a rate that was too expensive, as Annabella later complained. The couple soon found themselves overrun with debt, with bailiffs posted in the lobby. After moving from the Albany (Lady Melbourne's former residence), Byron found himself in a house haunted by the unhappy marriage of Georgiana, Lady Caroline Lamb's aunt. It was as if Byron was haunted by these 18th-century lives--Lady Melbourne, the Duchess, and the Duchess' sister, who earned the attention of Richard Sheridan, Byron's drinking companion in 1813.

 

In terms of Byron's writing, there is another connection as well. In 1802, Lady Georgiana collaborated with her sister, Harriet, on a tragedy based on the character of Count Siegendorf in The German's Tale, from the fourth volume of Harriet Lee's (1757-1851) popular novella, The Canterbury Tales. Lady Georgiana's play (her sister admits she had the principal hand in the production) existed until 1822 but by 1899 all manuscripts were lost or destroyed. Lady Georgiana's grandson charged Byron with basing Werner on this adaptation, claiming that Lady Caroline Lamb showed the work of her aunt to the poet in 1812 (Foreman 331, 431n8).

 

Amanda Foreman, in her biography of Georgiana, noted in 1998 that "the play is now lost and there is no way of clearing up the mystery which surrounds it. It was still extant in 1822 when Lady Morpeth sent a copy to a friend, but by 1899 the Mss was lost or destroyed. Thus there was no way to prove or deny the extraordinary assertion by Georgiana's grandson Frederick Leveson Gower that Byron had plagiarized Werner, from Georgian's Siegendorf." He claimed, "My Sister, Lady Georgiana Fullerton, told me many years ago that this was the case. Her statement was that the Duchess wrote the poem and gave the manuscript of it to her niece, Lady Caroline Ponsonby, and that she, some years later, handed it over to Lord Byron, who subsequently published it in his own name." Quoted in Hugh Stokes, The Devonshire House Circle (London 1917) p. 277. If there is any truth to the story, the likelihood is that Byron saw Georgiana's play and was inspired to write Werner." (p. 431. n.8).

 

Foreman's conclusion is correct. Since the publication of her book, however, the play alluded to ("The Hungarian") has in fact surfaced in the Huntington Library, San Marino California, and been transcribed by the scholar from New Zeland (Mr. H. Bewley) who discovered it. "The connection between Byron's Werner and Georgiana's play is minor; what one would expect from two works of art that draw on the same chapter of Sophia and Harriet Lee's The Canterbury Tales," Bewley notes. "Wholesale plagiarism did not occur … In structure, the two versions of Lee's narrative are quite different, Byron's following the diffused chronology of the Lee novella, the Duchess's re-structured to fit the unities of action, time and space".

 

The Byron Society finds in Byron’s favour

"Well they would wouldn’t they"

 

 

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