THE first book in 200 years of a Lord Byron is on the shelves – written by the New Forest resident whose ancestor is one of England’s greatest romantic poets.
Robin Byron, who is the 13th Baron Byron and related to famous George Gordon Byron, spoke to A&T about his book Echoes of a Life, which features spies, secrets and assisted dying.
“It is certainly true that no other Lord Byron title holder has written or published anything since Byron’s death, and that is almost 200 years ago!” he said. âI didn’t feel any particular pressure; I just wanted to see if I could do it and it wasn’t as easy as you might think.
Robin’s new novel, which inherited the title upon his father’s death in 1989, is set in the near future in Britain which legalized physician-assisted dying – a topic he became interested in after having read an article about Lord Falconer’s failed attempt to get him to write. place.
The plot centers on the heroine Marianne, who debates the idea of ââassisted suicide while longing for redemption as she reflects on her life and the dire consequences of her entanglement with an American diplomat and a potential spy.
Given the sensitivity of the issue, Robin was keen to wrap the book with an engaging storyline to keep readers engaged. “I try in writing to balance what is a good story with an idea worth discussing and thinking about.”
When he started the writing process he was against any move to allow assisted suicide, but now believes it needs to be done in a “restrictive form.”
“But no one thinks what our society would be like if there were readily available means of ending his life, with medical surveillance, which would give it an aura of respectability.
âIt’s a pretty brutal thing to do and very brutal for your family. Imagine if you could just call a clinic in Lyndhurst or Southampton and make an appointment to come by and do it!
He continued, âI think there are potential downsides and risks of us implementing an institutionalized death scenario. I mean, how would that affect and make people feel when they reach a certain age or suffer from long term chronic illness?
âAs one of my characters says: ‘While for a few it was a blessed relief to be able to choose the time of their death, for many it has dramatically increased the anxiety of old age. Sometimes, it’s easier not to have a choice â.
âSo we really have to think very carefully about how to do it right and how to make it quite restrictive; otherwise, I think it might be a mistake and put pressure on the elderly and infirm.
It was Robin’s long-held dream to write a book, which he first tentatively explored at the University of Cambridge where he studied at Trinity College – as his famous ancestor, who wrote classics. such as ‘Don Juan’ and ‘She Walks in Beauty’, does.
After graduating, Robin spent three years as a criminal lawyer before being drawn to litigation work in the shipping industry. He has pursued this career for more than three decades, settling disputes, drafting contracts and investigating insurance matters, such as ship fires.
âI actually don’t think it would have suited me to be a professional writer,â he said. âHaving to produce a book every two years is hard, hard work. It has an impact not only on you but also on your family as you have to be pretty selfish and shut yourself up.
Robin, who was president of the Byron Society for more than two decades, admits to being a fervent admirer of his ancestor’s work, which he ranks among the best of English romantic poets, alongside John Keats. âI think Keats is a little more cited because he’s a more accessible writer; although Byron was the star of his day.
What shocked Byron’s contemporaries – his racy life, bisexuality, and radical ideas – often appeals to modern readers; it can also be extremely funny.
Robin plans to write another novel, this time about wartime France.
âI have a few ideas, but I won’t reveal too many,â he smiles. âThe thing is, they say everyone can write a novel, but not everyone can write a second. I would like to prove to myself that I can do it.