Brummell & Byron: The Two heartthrobs of the Regency Era

BEAU BRUMMELL: This Charming Man

The wickedly handsome James Purefoy stars in this drama about the notorious dandy Beau Brummell. Forerunner of today’s celebrity culture, Brummell became famous for his impeccable dress sense and connections with the right people, including the Prince Regent.

Credited with making a less flashy and more elegant style of dress fashionable, the beautifully cut clothing that he made popular is seen as an early version of the suit. Having risen to a height of popularity, however, descent was swift. Brummell died penniless in France, having lost the favour of the Prince.

I am no history buff and yet was able to pick up on many glaring historical inaccuracies. However, as I watched this period movie knowing it would be pretty bad, I was able to enjoy it. After all, I watched this movie only to admire James Purefoy. Gorgeous, and a great actor, I am all bewilderment that he hasn’t been casted in every single period drama.

I could NOT enjoy this period movie to the fullest because of Matthew Rhys who played Lord Byron, a close friend of Brummells (or so it seems to be, according to the movie). He gave me the creepers.

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GEORGE GORDEN BYRON: Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know

I think my dislike for Rhys as Byron is due to my having already watched BYRON (2003) in which Jonny Lee Miller played the role of Lord Byron. The movie was very entertaining! Don’t let the movie’s poster frighten you; I was at first put off by it. But intense boredom led me to watch it and I was amazed by how intriguing the movie was.

Byron was considered to be an alcoholic, a sex-addict, a pedophile, and an adulterer who had an affair with his half-sister. Despite the rumours, whether they be true or false, he wrote exquisite poems:

SHE walks in beauty, like the nightOf cloudless climes and starry skies;And all that’s best of dark and brightMeet in her aspect and her eyes:Thus mellow’d to that tender lightWhich heaven to gaudy day denies. One shade the more, one ray the less,Had half impair’d the nameless graceWhich waves in every raven tress,Or softly lightens o’er her face;Where thoughts serenely sweet expressHow pure, how dear their dwelling-place. And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,The smiles that win, the tints that glow,But tell of days in goodness spent,A mind at peace with all below,A heart whose love is innocent!

On another note, Byron inspired for us writers the BYRONIC FIGURE. Maria described the figure as thus: “For Byronic hero we intend the literary type G.G. Byron created in his works: Lara, The Corsair, Manfred and even Don Juan. His literary hero is restless, moody, rebellious, wild in manners but of noble birth, haunted by a secret from his past, loved by women and envied by men. This is what Byronic hero means in literary criticism. You can recognize the same type in Charlotte Bronte’s Mr Rochester or Emily Bronte’s Heathcliffs. They are not pedofiles nor incestuous creatures but they are Byronic heroes. G.G. Byron , the man is not to be confused with his heroes nor with the poet who lives in his beautiful lines. These is what I learnt at university. A literary masterpiece has its own independent life, independent from the life of its author.

Ok. I’ll wrap it up. James Purefoy is gorgeoussss. If you want to drool, watch Beau Brummell. If you’re curious about Byron watch the 2003 movie directed by Julian Farino or buy the biography by MacCarthy and read along with me.

Period Movie Collection

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The deadline by which I will finish my revision and send back to Agent#1: May 13th

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27 Comments

Filed under Book & Film, Regency era

27 responses to “Brummell & Byron: The Two heartthrobs of the Regency Era

  1. Hey there!
    I was wondering how your revisions were going. I was surprised to see a new post as I pictured you furiously foregoing food and sleep to pound them out. 😀

    Will it really require a lot of killing of darlings? 😦

    It’d be great to hear about any resolutions you’ve come to regarding writing for a certain audience.

    Take care. And in my mind you should be chugging the champagne as you write…after these revisions, I think your days of looking for an agent are as good as gone. 😉

    xoxo

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  2. I thought the the thing about Byron sleeping with his half-sister was only a rumor and never actually proven…

    See, the only thing that bothers me is a lot of the things Byron was shunned for or is known for…a lot of people did it. He was really the only one who was a hypocrite about his actions, which despite his depraved behavior, makes me like him because he didn’t hide who he was based on Society’s judgments. He was who he was in private and in public.

    I mean, being a pedophile isn’t a good thing in most society’s but he’s not the only one who did it. And he definitely wasn’t the only adulterer (the royalty) or alcoholic (majority of the nobility).

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  3. @Rebecca: sent you an email 🙂

    @Shabana: He did have an affair with his half-sis…too many sources state it as a fact for it to have been a rumour. But I can’t really be THAT disgusted as they weren’t even raised together. But on the other points, I suppose one must admire him for his oppenness…but he took everything to the extreme. And he wasn’t just guilty of one moral crime but sooo many. But you’re right. Other men probably were as bad but kept it a secret. He just had a lot of spotlight on him that all his depravity was made obvious.But, the point is, I think the term ‘Byronic Hero’ has been misused. IMO. Totally debatable, I’m sure

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    • yeah, “Byronic Hero” is totally misused, I agree. I guess I forgot to add that, lol. But, he had a pretty unfortunate life previous to his adult misdeeds. Not, unfortunate in financial terms, but drama etc.

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      • I blame the parents. Always the parents. They were horrible–or so it says in the biography. I’m sure he would have been a different man had his parents been decent folks

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  4. Why is it that women always fall for the bad ones and the human race exonerates them with time?

    In regards to the first movie: excellent actor, horrible soundtrack. Agreed on all counts.

    Keep forging through with those revisions!!

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  5. I was MEGA excited when I saw this post because I am a massive Georgette Heyer fan, and I friggin’ love the way she writes Beau Brummell. And I love the fact that he could make or break careers with the raise of an eyebrow (if that is true… haha). I love that he brought understated style into vogue, and that he was a refined, polish gentleman at all times. People don’t really value that enough, I reckon. Which is why seeing that clip kind of made me writhe around on my sofa in pain. Accompanying that kind of music with Beau Brummell, and having him do something as uncouth as fight in the street? Sacrilege. Haha. I don’t think he would have ever done that. Not cool man, not cool.

    Oh and I’ve never EVER liked Byronic heroes. I don’t get the appeal of Heathcliff, for example- there’s a fine line between being a rake, and being downright cruel. Don’t really like Rochester either… Give me the nice guy, any day.

    Goodluck with your revisions 🙂

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    • Ah! I forget which book but I do remember Brummell being mentioned in Heyer’s novel. I’ve only read a few of ’em. My favourite has to be The Devil’s Cub. Have you read it?

      Reading your comment has inspired me to do further research on the Beau. So I plan to place an order on the Brummell’s biography written by Ian Kelly. I’ll post up any interesting tidbits after I finish tthe read.

      Heathcliff–I used to like him. But when I saw the adaptation of the book, I realized how very very violent he was. He truly was the devil reincarnate. Scary man…filled with so much hatred…. he tops Byron any day haha

      As for Rochester…!!! How could you not like him!!! He is such a hotty. I guess it’s because Jane managed to tame him a bit. And, of course, the way he treated his wife by locking her up was indeed inexcusable.

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      • Oh! And also, thanks to Brummell, the heros I write about in my Regency romance actually BATHE. Rather than pour perfume over themselves to hide their stink.

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  6. Lua

    Hmm drooling over a gorgeous man- with some period drama on the side? Why not 🙂
    But Byron was a- WHAT?! Oh my, I had no idea but I loved his poems so much, he sounds like such a romantic, a gentle soul… Then again, after my visit to Venice and attended the carnival there, I developed an interest in Casanova as well, so I guess I have a thing for the “bad guys who can write” 🙂
    Actually there is this book ‘Carnavale’ by M.R. Loveic, it’s about Casanova and Lord Byron falling in love with the same woman. I loved that book and of course it was not at all how the writer had portrait Byron…
    Okay, from now on if someone ever calls my male protagonist “a Byronic hero”, I have a feeling that I’m going to get pretty defensive haha

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    • Haha! I guess the taboo lifestyle of Byron has caught you unawares. As MM Bennetts (a fellow blogger & writer) wrote: “The man was a pervey derango. The poet was a genius.” So I guess how we see him really depends on what impression we encountered first. If you learned of him first through his poems, I think no matter what you learn, he’ll be more of the character deserving of some pity. If you encounter him first as the imoral, wicked man, then it’ll be hard to see him in a more sympathetic light, and it might even taint how one views his poems…. because that poem above, She Walks in Beauty, I hear was inspired by his incestuous love for his half-sister. Keeping that in mind it’s a bit disturbing to read.

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  7. I have never heard about Beau Brummell till now, but he doesn’t sound very good does he?

    As for Byron I was never able to read any of his work because I hated himself as a person too much. The three thing he had with Percy Shelley and Mary Shelley was just too awful for me… I never liked the expression also. You know, a guy that is an alcoholic, a sex-addict, a pedophile, and an adulterer who had an affair with his half-sister cannot be a hero. AT ALL!

    Have a nice weekend June!

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    • Brummell–I actually don’t know him too well, which is why I intend to read up on him a bit. But I can’t imagine he was a very good guy. A bit annoying, I would think, the way he squanders his money for clothe. I’ve never had a fancy for appearance-oriented men!

      I guess, as I was telling Lua, how we view Byron depends on which side of him you learned of first. Either the poet–or the man–?

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  8. Both of these men sound fascinating–I have to admit, I’m more interested in Byron after learning his dark side than before. It makes sense in a kind of sad, dark way–of course, I think, a poet who could weave such words would be tortured, complicated, full of vices. Why do I make that connection–poet equals tormented soul? Is that a stereotype or does it make sense?

    Now I think I want to try to write a real Byronic hero–antihero, I guess! Don’t think I could manage it yet, though…maybe someday.

    And James Purefoy is lovely. Do you think he’d make a good Candover in the eventual film adaptation of TRC?

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    • Yah, Brummell seems like a frivolous fop. A handsome one though, if he looks anything like Purefoy.

      Byron would be more of an interesting figure to base one’s character off from. I’ll be very interested to read your story with an anti-hero when you get about writing it. Though I can imagine it’ll be difficulty–because….I think if I were to try to write about an antihero he’d end up becoming the hero in the end as I would likely fall in love with him as I write. I think you’ll have to remain somewhat detached. Antihero like Becky sharp from vanity fair–I can imagine the author himself didn’t like her too much.

      Yesss!! The first half of my book, I imagined Richard Armitage as I wrote. The second half of my book, I imagined Lucas as Purefoy.

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  9. I don’t want to seem pedantic, but …you know…it’s my job!
    For Byronic hero we intend the literary type G.G. Byron created in his works: Lara, The Corsair, Manfred and even Don Juan. His literary hero is restless, moody, rebellious, wild in manners but of noble birth, haunted by a secret from his past, loved by women and envied by men. This is what Byronic hero means in literary criticism. You can recognize the same type in Charlotte Bronte’s Mr Rochester or Emily Bronte’s Heathcliffs. They are not pedofiles nor incestuous creatures but they are Byronic heroes.
    G.G. Byron , the man is not to be confused with his heroes nor with the poet who lives in his beautiful lines. These is what I learnt at university. A literary masterpiece has its own independent life, independent from the life of its author.
    Will you forgive my short lesson, June? But I just couldn’t resist.
    BTW, I like BBC Byron 2003 and I’d love to see the Lord Brummel you’ve reviewed here. Thanks for this interesting post!

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  10. Maria, your comment has cleared up much of my confusion. I had no idea why people kept using this term, Byronic Hero. But now I see. Very interesting!

    Do you think I can insert your answer into this entry?

    Thanks for your response. I love a good lesso 🙂

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  11. : ) Your deadline is my birthday.
    Which means that you can drive an hour, come see me, and we can go out for drinks to celebrate your success. Obviously.

    …nothing more to state. Haha.

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  12. I’m not much of a poetry person, so I don’t have that much exposure to Lord Byron’s poetry. However, I am an out-and-out period movie buff myself. Your column has made me determined to get that movie and watch it — time or no time! 🙂

    Like

  13. Kim

    Hey June,
    I know this if off topic, and what I am about to recommend is not really a “period movie”..but from what I remember in the bygone years is how awesome it was:

    “Jessica” which is based on a novel by Bryce Courtney, is an Australian 2004 miniseries. You can actually watch it on youtube, here’s part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSPPYWB0ALo

    I haven’t seen it in years, but I’m always looking for it in stores, etc. I can’t watch it on youtube as it will waste my internet quota (ARGH!). Anyway, I hope to watch it soon too, but I’d thought you might be interested.

    Just in case you decide to watch it, to give you a brief rundown: Recall, Australia was an English settlement, and the natives were called Aborigines. Well, you’ve seen the movie “Australia” by Baz Luhrman. So, the English that came..in order to “civilize” the natives, they “legally stole” the children of Aborigines and integrated them in a “white” society, where the kids recieved schooling, etc. These children were termed “The Stolen Generation”. (And it is only up until recently that our new Prime-minister has apologized, on behalf of the country, to the Aborinal population about what was done to them so decades ago – sad I know!)

    There’s also another miniseries called “Mary Byrant”..which is actually about the English convicts going to Australia to settle there. Sounds boring but REALLY awesome. Stars Romala Garai.

    I think by the end of it, you would have been schooled in the history of Australia (well, the beginning anyway). It’s all drama so these two miniseries will keep you entertained I hope.

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  15. Carl

    So, after 200+ years, gossip still rules. 🙂
    The only people who actually know( or knew) the truth about Byron’s relationship with Augusta are…gee: Byron and Augusta.
    Byron died of fever, in an ultimately successful effort to free Greece from the Turks. He put his money where his ideals were by helping to finance the Greek cause. In other words, he died a hero.
    Byron liked his brandy ‘n soda, but was scrcely an alcoholic. One can drink without being a drunk, no?
    He did as he pleased. Given his looks, social status and means, who of us would not?
    Best of Fortune,
    Carl

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    • Reading your comment, and then reading my post, I remembered that good old lesson I learned as a kid – don’t believe everything that you see on tv. I would imagine that the Victorians had a lot to do with the sensational gossip haha.

      Anyway, thanks for your response!

      Like

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