May 3, 1810: Lord Byron swims the Hellespont

On this day, George Gordon, Lord Byron, swims across the Hellespont, a tumultuous strait in Turkey now called the Dardanelles. Legendary Greek hero Leander supposedly swam the same four-mile stretch. Byron’s visits to Greece later made him a passionate supporter of Greek independence from Turkey.

Lord_byron

Byron, who was born with a clubfoot, had been raised in near-poverty in Scotland. At age 10, he inherited his title and wealth from a great uncle. He attended top schools, including Trinity College, Cambridge, where he racked up enormous debt and began to publish poetry. When his first volume, Hours of Idleness, was received unkindly by critics, he savaged the literary establishment in his second book, English Bards and Scotch Reviewers (1809).

The 22-year-old Byron was taking an extended tour of the European continent when he decided to take his famous swim. His travels inspired his first widely read poetic work,Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. After the publication of the poem’s first canto in 1809, Byron became a major British celebrity. The world-weary tone of the poems, describing the travels of a young noble waiting to be knighted, caught the imagination of the public and established the cynical Byronic hero.

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Japanese war crimes trial begins  1946
New Japanese constitution goes into effect  1947
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HOLLYWOOD  
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Lord Byron swims the Hellespont  1810
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OLD WEST  
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