Byron’s memoirs were burnt by friends terrified of what they might contain. Ever since, biographers have been trying to make up for the loss. The attractions of the challenge are obvious. Not only was Byron a poet of the very highest rank – in every sense of the word – but he also led a life of incomparable scandal and glamour. The toast of a new era of mass readership, he was also its first and greatest victim. The parabola of his rise and fall retains its fascination to this day, for hooked as we are on the cult of celebrity, Byron’s myth still serves as the archetype.