Sotheby's is set to auction the most important series of Lord Byron letters to come onto the market in 30 years, some of which are previously unpublished.

Each is written to his close friend Francis Hodgson, a clergyman.

The contents of typical of the poet's contreversial writing style, including references to a squalid affair with a 'serving girl', jibes about foreigners and a dig at his rival Wordsworth (aka "Turdsworth").

They shed a fascinating light on the superstar Romantic poet - one of literature's most charismatic figures, described by his lover Lady Caroline Lamb as, "mad, bad and dangerous to know."

The letters were purchased by a former Prime Minister, the Earl of Roseberry, in 1885 and have remained in the family ever since, reports the Guardian newspaper.

"Byron clearly enjoyed writing slightly outrageous things to a clergyman," said Sotheby's specialist Gabriel Heaton.

"But you do also get a very strong sense of the depth of friendship they had. There's a real intimacy."

About 15% of the letters' content is unpublished and unstudied.

It includes references to Byron's affair with a serving girl, Susan Vaughan, that he ends when he hears she has been seeing someone else.

"Basically, he takes her as his mistress and he is never at any point saying he is going to be faithful to her but he expects her to be faithful to him and when he hears rumours that she isn't, she loses her job," said Heaton.

In another letter Byron talks about his time in Albania and refers to Ali Pasha, the ruler, as a ""fine portly person with two hundred women and as many boys, many of the last I saw and very pretty creatures they were."

And while Lord Bryon and his fellow poets Robert Southey and William Wordsworth had all been Romantics, they were certainly not friends...

"Southey and Turdsworth such renegado rascals," writes Bryon.


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