Lord Byron's Jackal: A Life of Trelawny: A Life of Trelawnay

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9780006548805: Lord Byron's Jackal: A Life of Trelawny: A Life of Trelawnay

‘There is a mad chap come here – whose name is Trelawny… He comes on the friend of Shelley, great, glowing, and rich in romance… But tell me who is this odd fish? They talk of him here as a camelion who went mad on reading Lord Byron’s ‘Corsair’.’ JOSEPH SEVERN

David Crane’s brilliant first book investigates the life and phenomenon of Edward John Trelawny – writer, adventurer, romantic and friend to Shelley and Byron. Very reminiscent of YoungHusband in its mix of biography, history and travel writing it is a sparkling debut.

Trelawny was, unquestionably, one of the great Victorians. He made a career from his friendship with Byron and Shelley and with his tales of glory from the Greek War of Independence. His story is one of betrayal and greed, of deluded idealism and physical courage played out against one of the most ferocious wars even the Balkans has seen.

There has been no general biography of Trelawny for nearly twenty years, no history of the philhellene role in the Greek War of Independence for even longer.

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Review:

‘In Lord Byron’s Jackal, David Crane brings Edward Trelawny – seaman, scoundrel, friend of Byron and Shelley and the original of Stevenson’s Squire Trelawney – startlingly to life. Here is a wonderful adventure story about a man who invented himself in the image of the Byronic hero and lived to the hilt the final passionate and violent flowering of Romanticism in the cause of Greek independence.’
Stella Tillyard

From the Publisher:

some excerpts from the British press
‘Fascinating, very entertaining, detailed and vivid… essential reading for anyone even remotely interested in the great mythology surrounding the Romantic poets.’ KATE SAUNDERS, New Statesman

‘Gloriously enjoyable …a real thriller…piecing together with admirable gusto its own unforgettable tale of adventure.’ PHILIP HORNE, Evening Standard

‘A great achievement’ ROBERT MCCRUM, Observer

‘English Romanticism threw up some unlikely spear-carriers, but there were few more outlandish specimens than Edward John Trelawny (1792-1881). Hastily summarised, his career – which took in friendships with Shelley and Byron, numberless love affairs and a stint as a brigand chieftain –- might serve as a plot for the most lurid kind of Victorian adventure novel; all kept going, as David Crane’s excellent biography shows, by an egotism and a tendency to self-dramatise capable of putting even Byron’s legendary monomania in the shade…to which the episodes of his life [provide] a continuous fiery backdrop. Sent off to school by a disapproving father, he escaped at 13 to the navy, saw service in Java, and took a bullet in the leg. Discharged around the time of Waterloo, he married an 18-year-old heiress, who betrayed him with an older man, and ended up in the divorce courts…Crane points out the unlucky chance that led Byron (who died of apoplexy) to ask his advice about doctors and Shelley (who died in a storm at sea) to consult him about boat building…With Byron dead, he embarked on a kind of Romantic fantasy life in a fortified cave situated in the Parnassan mountains. ‘No more a nameless being, I am now a Greek chieftain,’ he wrote home. With a 13-year-old bride and a host of cut-throat accomplices, he nearly died in an assassination attempt, and was rescued by a retired English officer named Francis D’Arcy Bacon… This is a fascinating trip around the wilder shores of pre-Victorian Romantic life. D J TAYLOR, Mail on Sunday

‘An outstanding biography’ JONATHAN KEATES, Spectator

‘Fascinating and oddly disturbing …Crane tells the story with admirable generosity. His is a complex book, but as a narrative of mingled fraud and genius it is altogether convincing.’ JAN MORRIS, Independent

‘Splendidly readable’ JONATHAN BATE, Sunday Telegraph

‘Brilliant, written with an impressive combination of scholarship and verve. …This is apparently a first book, but no one would suppose so from its trenchant, glistening style.’ ALETHEA HAYTER, TLS

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