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Welcome to criminalize a production of scandal and audio in partnership with I Heart Radio. Hello and welcome to the second season of criminality. This season, we're exploring the lives and motivations of some of the most notorious stalkers throughout history. I'm Maria Tomoaki. And I'm Holly Frid. And today we are going to talk about a rather famous stalker in history, Lady Caroline Lamb, who stalked George Gordon Birhan. You probably know him best as the poet Lord Byron. And Byron was born into an aristocratic and dysfunctional family in 1788.


And he went on, of course, to become one of the most influential and celebrated poets of the romantic movement, along with five other names that you will almost certainly recognize William Blake, William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who are often grouped in as the early part of that, and then with Byron Percy, Shelley and John Keats. But the six combined kind of make up the famous romantic movement. Yes, the considered most influential.


The romantic movement was one that believed that our inner world gives us endless creative possibilities, as well as new ways of thinking and living. And today, even Byron continues to be an icon in literature. You read him in high school and college.


Some might argue that he was made famous by his autobiographical poem Child Herold's Pilgrimage, but others argue he's better known for his satirical poem Danwon.


Most of us, though, probably know him from the iconic and beloved poem She walks in beauty.


I mean, everybody knows the first two lines of that. But it wasn't just his poetry that garnered everyone's attention. It was also his great many sexual escapades. His passionately lived life made him kind of a rock star for his day. He was notoriously handsome, notorious for having many lovers, and many of them inspired his works. And one of these lovers was a wealthy aristocrat named Lady Caroline Lamb. Both she and Byron were part of the literary circle scene, and they first met at a society event in London in early 1812.


And some reports kind of indicate that Byron was not really particularly fond of Caroline until they had spent a little bit of time together. Others suggest that she got together with him after she wrote him a fan letter regarding one of those works. Maria just mentioned Child Herold's pilgrimage, and that in response to that letter, he visited her. And that might have also been motivated because she had a whole lot of money and the very high status in society.


I believe he looked upon that in a very friendly way.


Alison, listen, he was many things, but, you know, he was no fool.


He knew how the latter work he did and he knew that his aristocratic family was going down, not up, you know. So regardless of which of those stories happens to be true, the two did have an affair. And that was from March through August of 1812. That was the year that Holly was talking about that they met.


And the affair was really well publicized and it was really passionate. They were both in their 20s. Carolyn was 26 and Byron was twenty four. He called her KERO, which she used as her public nickname. It was for Byron who had said she coined the phrase, and I'm quoting this mad, bad and dangerous to know. And it said that she pointed after she read Child Harold Pilgrimage, and that phrase actually became his lasting epitaph. I think everybody associates that with Lord Byron.


I think so, too. Yeah, right. I also love it when people reference that phrase and they don't know the Byron Caroline's story at all. Right. No, I just thought it was a cool phrase you use to describe people that were, you know, kind of jaunty players. I'm like, not not yes, but no. Right?


Yes. However, there's context. Here's the thing. At the time of this affair, Caroline was married to William Lamb. William and Caroline's meeting in courtship had actually been orchestrated by William's mother. And the two were we, quote, mutually captivated by each other. So it seemed like they started out quite well. They married in eighteen five. That is the year that Caroline turned nineteen. That is also the year that William took on the title Lord Melbourne.


So The Lambs had one child.


His name was George Augustus Frederick, and he was born in 1887. And they had him after they experienced a few miscarriages of justice, as they called him. He was born with mental health problems as well as epilepsy, and he required constant care. Most aristocratic families would have sent their relatives with any type of challenge, whether it was physical or mental to an institution. They would not have kept them home. But William and Caroline cared for Augustus themselves until his death in eighteen thirty six.


Yeah, that is also one of those many cases we stumble across in history where the exact nature of his problems is not really clearly defined. It's not. And often you come across really outdated terminology and it's really difficult to sort of discern, do they mean that he was autistic? We don't know as we're talking about all of this, if the name Lord Melbourne rings a bell for you or if you know you're Queen Victoria history like Holly does, that's the same guy.


William was a senior statesman and he also famously mentored Queen Victoria when she was very young to its own scandal and gossip. And during that same time, he, of course, became the husband, unexpectedly involved in one of the most scandalous affairs of the 19th century.


That summer, everyone, I think, almost literally, I think in their circle was talking about his wife's affair with the poet Lord Byron. So this actually wasn't even the first scandal that he had been through with his wife. Before Carolyn met Byron, she had had an affair with Sir Godfrey Webster, who was an English politician, that she confessed to this affair, to William. It wasn't nearly as public as her affair with Byron, and William forgave her.


So it's worth noting here that William also is not necessarily like a saint of monogamy. This it is very possible that he had affairs of his own throughout their marriage. Sources disagree on it, but it's entirely possible. As we said, sources also disagree on whether or not William was inclined to what some people at the time would have considered more deviant sexual desires and behaviours. This is all personal, private stuff, so there's no real way to know what his preferences were or weren't.


You can even ask questions as to whether or not that's our business or relevant. Exactly. But what we do know is that Caroline once wrote in a letter that and we quote, He called me prudish, said I was straight laced. But whether or not her husband found her prudish, her reputation in London society was anything but. And Caroline's involvement with Lord Byron was very public knowledge, as we've been saying this whole time. Yes. And the public found it shocking.


We're going to take a quick break right now. And when we return, we're going to talk about things that aren't prudish or straight laced.


Welcome back to Criminally. We're going to talk about that affair, but first we're going to go back and talk a little bit about Caroline's childhood. So let's take a minute to get to know who Caroline was and how she grew up.


So she was born on November 13th and seventeen eighty five into, as we've said earlier, the aristocratic elite. So her life has actually been described as insular, inbred and superficial.


Sorry, your three words.


I just don't want my life to be described like everything you want in your biography. Exactly. But she herself, she was considered graceful and pretty and she had reddish blonde hair and freckles across her cheeks. She was portrayed by one biographer as more like a fairy than a human being. Another biographer referred to her.


And I'm going to quote on this small, kittenish ways of showing her affection with kisses that touched the cheek and tiny intimate caresses. And he continued that theme by saying that, quote, Her mouth could spit venom as well as list endearments. And that part sure seems to be true.


So it was rumored. And by rumored, what we mean is that some modern historians do acknowledge this and believe it. Others do not. That Caroline had grown up as a tomboy, considered being able to wash a dog a most satisfying accomplishment, and that she was unable to read or write until she was a teenager. However, we also know that most of this is probably just hearsay. Yeah, not only was she very well educated at home with an extensive curriculum and a governess to ensure that she adhered to that curriculum, she also attended elite schools in London.


And so those characterizations that suggest that she was less than an ideal lady may have simply been borne from idle gossip in response to what you might call her. Very free spirit.


Right, exactly. And sometimes things just catch on in the historical record.


Yeah, I was reading about that. While she was still a young adult, Caroline began writing prose and poetry and she also really enjoyed music and drama she was interested in. And she got to be pretty good at sketching portraits. She spoke French and Italian fluently, and her knowledge of both Greek and Latin were at the very least, passable. So not the uneducated fool that people may have wanted to paint her as at all know, unless she was speaking in French to her dog as she washed him.


I know she might. But even so, still a different language. Exactly. She also began writing and she started doing this as a way to escape from her mental and emotional problems, which allegedly made her prone to temper tantrums and angry outbursts. Something I don't have any knowledge of it.


No, nothing. You never have a tantrum, ever. She was considered and we quote, volcanic. And later she was described by Byron as an exaggerated woman. Her behavior was, unsurprisingly, troublesome to her aristocratic family. She also experimented with sedatives such as laudanum, and eventually her parents hired a special governess just to look after her.


So during her affair with Byron, Caroline was also considered volcanic. For instance, upon seeing him speaking and this is just speaking, he wasn't getting Hanzi to another woman.


Caroline broke the glass in her hand because she was so upset she often dressed up as a pageboy so she could sneak in and gain access to Byron's rooms, which spoiler alert is the trick that she also tried after the affair ended.


And that affair is said to have concluded rather abruptly. Byron basically cut it off and then quickly found New Paramour's to occupy his time. And when Byron ended the affair, that didn't end well for Caroline. Unsurprisingly, not only was she still super into him, there's no caps for that word.


Super like there's no big caps in the world for how super into. She's right.


It's like billboard level. But the thing is, her reputation in London society was also completely trashed.


Yeah. So William took her to Ireland in an effort to put some distance between themselves and the affair and to sidestep the whole hotbed of gossip that never seemed to end. But distance really didn't change anything about Caroline's interest in obsession with Byron. In fact, the two actually continued to correspond while she was away from home.


But when Caroline returned to London in 1813, Byron made it clear that he had no intention of continuing a romantic relationship with her. He said, quote, She is a good study for a couple of years at best when he was speaking to his longtime friend, Sir James Webster. About his relationship with Caroline, which is kind of a callous jerk. Yeah, that like even if he said it like to his best friend, which one is there but to like now we all know it.


Like, I can't. Yeah. Byron, he has his reputation. Byron adventured and Humanised and Caroline continued to send him letters. All this was happening. He stopped responding to her correspondence, but she didn't give up. And it was two years after their affair ended and she was still writing to him. And I can quote from one of her letters, which goes, I loved you as no woman ever could love because I'm not like them, but more like a beast who sees no crime in loving and following its master.


You became such to me, master of my soul, more than anything else. All right. Yeah. Very kind of, you know, very tepid.


Sort of after two years. I mean, my goodness. With getting no reply. And this is just with letters. Just with letters. Yeah. So while we consider all of that, we are going to pause and have a quick break. And when we return, we're going to talk about all of the different ways that Caroline stalked Lord Byron.


Welcome back to Criminally. Letters, it turns out, weren't actually the only way that Carolyn tried to get Byron's attention right, we talked before about all of the various things she did so in a creative sense. So she kind of turned that same creative energy to this while she was writing him all of these love letters. She was also badmouthing him to everyone. Did you have ears you were going to hear when she was caught sneaking into his house, she threatened to kill herself with a knife.


She burned his effigies, gifts and copies of his letters in a bonfire while having a group of local kids recite a poem that she had written about him. Deep ritualistic situation going on there. Wow. Right. Just got to move on from that.


Right. Enterprising, but yes, that is a true story. And if you're not already thinking about the 80s movie Fatal Attraction, well, she also allegedly and this is rather lewd.


Yes. Take a pause for this one.


She sent him clippings of her pubic hair. Yeah. And it continues. That didn't end with pubic hair. Also, I never thought I'd be discussing that story. However, here we are.


Another time when she was unable to gain access to his home, she wrote the words Remember Me? On a blank page in one of Byron's books. He did respond to that, but not how she had hoped. In fact, he wrote what you could consider a hate poem to her, which I have a little snippet of.


This stanza went like this. Remember the I doubt it. Not thy husband to think of thee by neither shout thou be forgot thou false to him, thou fiend to me.


Hate poem, Caroline had also become really good at impersonating Byron's work, which is really creepy to me. Yeah, this included his handwriting. So she was signing his name to work that she was writing. And on top of impersonating him as a poet, she also wrote letters in his style. One interesting little fact that was uncovered about her letters is that she sent one as Byron to Byron's publisher. So at that point, it's beyond creepy and messing with someone's livelihood.


And in that letter, she actually deceived the publisher into sending her a portrait of him. Right. Because that's what she needed, a portrait of Byron at this point in her life, because her obsession just continued. So when Byron publicly badmouthed her at a ball, she smashed a wine glass and tried to cut her wrists, to which Byron reacted by describing her act as nothing more than theater and commenting, quote, Lady Caroline performed the dagger scene in reference to the Shakespeare play Macbeth Callous.


Nobody is doing it right at this funeral, right? No, this is a train wreck. Caroline plunged into a depression after this and started to drink a great deal as a way to cope with her heartbreak. She also at this time wrote a book, Glen Garvin, which was a satire that was released in 1816, only a few weeks after Byron's permanent departure from England. That book was published anonymously, but the intimate details of her romance with Byron, details about her husband and scathing commentary about other aristocrats made it absolutely easy to guess who had written that particular piece of literature if she needed any more gossip about herself.


This book did it. Everybody knew that she wrote this book. I'm not sure she was welcome in any of her circles at this point. Byron responded to the novel, which he actually did read it. And he said and we quote, I read Glenarden by Carol Lam Goddamn. And when he wrote his famous poem Danwon, it was published about three years after Carolyn's book. He actually included some passages that alluded to her. And one line really can't be mistaken.


He wrote some play the Devil and then write a novel.


Carolyn replied to Byron's taunts with her own poem, which was titled A New Canto. But Byron never responded to it. And actually historians believe it is because he likely never even read it.


And most critics, to be honest, many of them at the time considered Carolyn's book to be and this is harsh, unreadable Pulp Fiction. It was so controversial that her in-laws tried to have it banned from further publication. They were unsuccessful. They also tried to have her diagnosed, as we quote, because this is a term at the time certified insane. Again, unsuccessful, embarrassed and disgraced by his wife's indiscretions, William decided that it would be best for the pair to separate.


But at the end of the day, neither of them went through with that. Really like to make it very clear this would be like a very high profile politician today, having a spouse very publicly having affairs, but then also very publicly obsessing over someone. Yes, like picture someone married to a politician having had an affair with a famous actor. That actor takes off, moves on with his life, and that person continues to publicly obsess over them for years.


Wildly embarrassing, particularly in Victorian England.


I believe actually through a lot of their marriage, they were actually living together. I might be wrong on that, but it seems like he would travel a lot and live in different places because of his various roles in politics. So, you know, there's there's that, too. You know, we're never together. So why bother actually going through the divorce rates?


And Caroline died four years later on January twenty fifth, eighteen twenty eight in London. She had, as we said, taken to drinking very heavily. Apparently she favoured Sherry, if you believe reports. And it is said that her death at a mere age forty two was accelerated by alcohol and laudanum. Use William, who at this point was chief secretary for Ireland, traveled to be at her bedside.


So during the time that she lived in Caroline's behaviour, might not have actually been called stalking. The behaviour was there, but the terminology necessarily wasn't. But what she was doing, she was absolutely engaging in stalking behaviour. She was not only persistent, she was confusing reality with fantasy. And these are things we know that can happen when someone is stalking. Some have written of her that she was behaving as though she were. And this was a quote that I came across the heroine of a melodrama.


At one point, Byron remarked very similarly that she was and I'm quoting him here. Heated by novel reading, which made her fancy herself the heroine of romance and led her into all sorts of eccentricities, and Caroline's obsession with Lord Byron defined the last roughly 15 years of her life.


But if you are aching to find a positive out of all of this, turmoil needs to be one, just one, just one minor one. You could make the case that her behavior and this affair also influenced both her and Byron's writing. So if you enjoy Byron's work, know that some of that came out of going through this very strange affair and having this person never really get over him. But instead of being remembered in history as a serious writer and a poet, because, remember, Carolyn did have her own literary talents, despite those scathing reviews of Glenn Glenarden.


And she wrote three more novels. And so the interesting twist here is that while she coined that phrase to describe Byron as mad, bad and dangerous to know, it really is more appropriate probably for her.


I agree. I completely agree. Are you projecting?


How are you feeling? OK today, Caroline. So for anybody who's familiar with Downton Abbey, this is definitely an appropriate moment to remember the words of the Dowager Countess.


The only poet here I am familiar with is Lord Byron, and I presume we all know how that ended.


I'm sure we are all imagining Maggie Smith saying, I know Lord Byron, the poet here, likely died of malaria in Greece in 1824. He was only thirty six years old. So before she passed, certainly. And another incidence of life taken rather quickly. This isn't a super fun, no ending for this episode. This isn't a super fun episode. Like the fun thing about it is if you remove yourself from knowing that they're actually real people who are involved in this.


It sounds like a crazy Hollywood script, but it's not. It's real. And she really did have these problems. And Byron was not particularly kind.


And like this whole there's a whole script the whole life that they had. It doesn't seem like it was 15 years, seems like it was an entire lifetime, right? So, Holly, now that we've gone through Lady Lamb and Lord Byron, what would we toast them with if we were to have some sort of drink in their.


In their honor? So as I was reading this, what I kept thinking was, I want a drink. That feels very comforting after all of this as well. I mean, we have to acknowledge we are living in a very strange time. So a comfort cocktail sounded great to me for that reason as well. And so I came up with something called I Think I'm in Love, which is very much about a person who is obsessed in this manner.


They're not actually in real love, are obsession, but they think they're in love. But also my thing is that if you shared similar tastes to me when you sip this, you'll go, oh, I think I'm in love with this drink. So it's super easy. It starts with hot chocolate.


Oh, I'm actually really surprised by that, Danto. I know. So I do your hot chocolate, however you do it. If you like instant hot chocolate, go crazy. I like to make hot chocolate, you know, with cocoa powder and milk. That way I can control the sweetness level myself. And sometimes I also throw a little vanilla extract in there to just make it a little warmer. I like to do that. However, you like your hot chocolate, you just want to start with a mug of hot chocolate and then you add an ounce of brandy and two ounces of white chocolate liquor and it just makes a nice, warm, cuddly cup of alcohol.


I wish that Carolyn had just stayed home and made that drink right. Although she had a drinking problem. So maybe not so much. Right. Well, that was you know, she turned to it for Byron. So maybe if she'd stayed home with her hot chocolate, she would have been right.


A little boozy hot chocolate. I, I know white chocolate is not for everybody. And white chocolate liquor can be a turnoff for some people. If you don't, you could use regular chocolate liquor like a milk chocolate liquor or even a dark chocolate one. It'll just change the profile of it a little bit. But it would still work and you can dial it down. For me, two ounces felt right. That might seem like a lot, but for something like that, that's a very heavy ish liquor.


You know, there's a lot of milkiness going on there and stuff. It doesn't seem like the same as if you had two ounces of like a heavier spirit. So that's what's up.


I think I'm in love as much as you can't be with a cup of hot chocolate. We would like to thank you for hanging with us and spending this time and hopefully enjoying her sometimes silly. This time a little depressing. Walk through the criminals of history. And we hope that you will join us once again back here, Criminon. Criminality is a production of QandA Land Audio in partnership with a heart radio for more podcasts from Shandley and Audio. Please visit the I Heart radio app, Apple podcast or wherever you listen to your favorite shows.