Happy 226th birthday to that pansexual romeo George Gordon Byron. Adultery, incest, sodomy were mere half-loves next to his great love, self-love. His passions were in full flame by thirteen when he entered the all-male world of Harrow in 1801 and forged his first sexual liaisons, particularly with John FitzGibbon, subject of some later poems collected in Hours of Idleness. At Trinity College, Cambridge, he fell in love with John Edleston, commemorated in his famous series of elegies, Thyrza, which necessarily disguises his beloved as a woman because gay men were still being arrested, tried, and hanged. His poems lament "kindred hearts must roam/ And seek abroad, the love denied at home." Accordingly, immediately after college Byron went to Greece. There he had sex with many young men, going so far as to include one of them, Nicolo Giraud, in his will with a gift of 7,000 pounds. While away Byron received letters from Charles Matthews and John Hobhouse detailing the latest gay gossip and criminal trials in a Latin code that was not broken until 1957. Back in England in 1812 he published Childe Harold's Pilgrimage and became a sensation. Byronmania swept the country and his exploits were criticized and celebrated. He had affairs with notably married women like Lady Caroline Lamb and later his half-sister Augusta. Ever mindful of the importance of an author's looks, when he wasn't sleeping with them he slept with curlers in his hair.
On January 2, 1815 he married Lady Caroline's cousin, the heiress Annabella Milbanke, a disastrous union that lasted exactly a year. In January 1816 she fled with their new daughter amid widespread rumors of his multiple evils. He signed the document of separation in April and soon after left England forever. In 1819 he began publishing his opus Don Juan, still unfinished at his death in Greece at 36 in 1824. In Byron: Life and Legend, biographer Fiona MacCarthy argues Byron's true sexual attraction was for young men. For another view, there's Edna O'Brien's brief Byron in Love.