Caro's letter to Byron fetches pounds 9,975

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The Independent Online
A previously unrecorded letter from Lady Caroline Lamb to poet Lord Byron, on learning of his marriage to Annabella Milbanke in January 1815, fetched pounds 9,975 at Christie's in London yesterday.

Lady Caroline, whose affair with Byron (right) had ended in 1813, wrote: "I hope it is no wrong to any one if at such a moment I intrude one line upon you ... ah [sic] refuse not to one who for so long has held your Image as the dearest thing in life to her heart if I venture also to breathe one prayer of your happiness.

"May God bless and protect you L(ord) Byron. May you be very happy." She adds the hope that Byron will "excuse and forget every part of my former conduct".

Lady Caroline - nicknamed Caro - met Byron in March 1812 and was instantly infatuated with the radical young poet. Openly defying her husband, William Lamb, son of Lord Melbourne, they began an adulterous affair which shocked 19th-century society. Her favourite pastimes included dressing up in boys' clothes and baring her breasts at society parties, both of which infuriated her lover.

It had been widely feared that when Lady Caroline heard of his engagement she might react violently. However, she simply gave up, her health steadily declining until her death in 1828, aged 42.

Byron's wife bore him a daughter, later the wife of the Earl of Lovelace. The pair soon separated, leaving Byron to a succession of mistresses, of whom the most notable was the Italian countess, Teresa Gamba. Byron died of fever in 1824, aged 36.

At the same sale, a 78 rpm record of the Irish novelist and poet James Joyce reading the Aeolus passage from Ulysses in 1924 - one of only 30 pressings ever made - fetched pounds 9,775.

Gillian Cribbs