A Year in Books/Day 220: The Secret (No, Not That One)

  • Title: The Secret The Strange Marriage of Annabella Milbanke and Lord Byron
  • Author: Ashley Hay
  • Year Published: 2000/This Edition: 2001 (Aurum Press Ltd)
  • Year Purchased: 2002/2003
  • Source: Barnes & Noble clearance rack
  • About: This is way more interesting than the “self-help” book by Rhonda Byrne. It’s also real. We all know that Lord Byron (and his buddies) had some hellacious and salacious adventures. Carousing, hell-catting, what-have-you. They were a lot of things, but boring wasn’t one of them. With all of that knowledge in the back of our heads, you’d think that any biography focusing on his personal life couldn’t offer up an intriguing perspective. You’d be wrong, and thank goodness for that. History has certainly seen its share of romantic mismatches and marital disasters. The union between Lord Byron and Annabella Milbanke deserves a fairly high position on any informal ranking. Lest you worry that The Secret is trashy tabloid-esque fodder with a historical spin, fear not! Hay has written a fine exploration, taken from the couple’s journals and correspondence, that gives her subjects a respectful, though not heavy, seriousness.
  • Motivation: We always hear of Byron and his conquests, yet few words are devoted to the women he loved; and most of those are given over to his sister, not his wife. An entire book dedicated to the odd, brief relationship he had with the out-flanked Miss Milbanke? Oh, yes please.
  • Times Read: 1
  • Random Excerpt/Page 38: “At the same time, she became convinced that Byron was about to announce his engagement to someone else-to the young lady, in fact, whom he had told he wanted to see no more of Annabella’s poems. All the light, all the spark, went out of her and out of her effervescent summer: she told her aunt of this imminent announcement so definitely that Lady Melbourne took the idea to Byron as a fact, not a rumour, and he was at a loss to explain its origins or its vehemence.”
  • Happiness Scale: 8 1/2
    Portrait of Annabella Byron (nee Anne Isabella...

    Portrait of Annabella Byron (nee Anne Isabella Milbanke) (1792-1860) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



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