Byron is a complex poet; he is perhaps the epitome of the Romantic hero—comic, nihilistic, and yet a popular and talented radical. Should knowledge of Byron's private behavior, beliefs, and supposed immorality affect opinions about and readings of his work? For example, when you read Don Juan, do you see it as a moral or an immoral poem?

Knowledge of Lord Byron's private behavior, beliefs, and supposed immorality will likely lead to different opinions and readings about his work. Some people might think the poet's problematic personal life compromises poems like Don Juan. Others could feel that reading and even admiring Don Juan is not the same as endorsing the behavior of its author.

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Whether knowledge of Lord Byron's private behavior, beliefs, and supposed immorality should affect opinions and readings of his work will depend on the reader. When it comes to Byron, there is evidence that he was a pedophile, a rapist, and an abuser. Various biographers have presented him as preying on boys, girls, women, and his wife.

Some might be unable to detach the work from the author. In this case, the toxic behavior attributed to Byron compromises his work. Others could feel that the work is separate from the author. Alternately, it’s possible to reason that the two aren’t so separate; yet reading Byron, and even admiring his work, is not the same as endorsing his conduct.

Similarly, a moral evaluation of Byron’s epic poem Don Juan is likely to produce divergent conclusions. One could contend that certain parts of Don Juan, like the harem scene, reflects progressives ideas about gender. However, one could use those same parts and conclude that they reinforce harmful stereotypes about trans, nonbinary, and genderqueer people.

One might also want to think about what’s at stake when it comes to Byron’s, and his poem's, imputed immorality. Byron has been dead for almost two centuries. Don Juan, his poem, is more than 200 years old. Whatever opinion one reaches, one might want to remain open to the possibility that, when it comes to general issues of right and wrong, it’s likely that there are more relevant and impactful figures to put under the spotlight.

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