Corin Throsby looks at the extraordinary fan mail received by the poet Lord Byron. The New Generation Thinkers scheme is ten years old in 2020. Jointly run by BBC and the Arts and Humanities Research Council, each year it offers ten academics at the start of their careers a chance to bring fascinating research to a wider public. This week we hear five essays from this last decade of stimulating ideas.
We think of fan mail as a recent phenomenon, but in the early 19th century the poet Byron received hundreds of letters from lovesick admirers. Cambridge academic Corin Throsby takes us on a journey into Byron's intimate fan mail and shows what those letters reveal about the creation of a celebrity culture that has continued into the present.
This essay was recorded in front of an audience at the BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking Festival 2011 at Sage Gateshead. You can hear Corin Throsby presenting Radio 3's Sunday Feature series Literary Pursuits on Truman Capote https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000gl43 and find another Essay from her recorded at the York Festival of Ideas A Romanticist Reflects on Breast Feeding https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08wn2rm
Producer: Craig Smith