King's College London
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Byron & politics: ‘born for opposition’

19. Letter from Byron to John Murray II, 10 April 1814

NLS Ms.43488

Byron assures Murray that the ‘Ode To Napoleon Buonaparte’ is not pro-Bonaparte. Despite being offered the ‘Ode’ as a gift, Murray paid a remarkable 1,000 guineas for the copyright of this short work.

It was first published on 22 April 1814 and sold for one shilling and sixpence a copy. Murray published it anonymously at first (only the 10th and later editions carried Byron’s name). It ran through 10 editions in 1814, and 14 in all.

Despite the large number of editions, the relatively modest print run of 9,500 copies meant that Murray made less than £200 sales profit: nowhere near enough to cover the copyright payment. The letter is dated 10 April but has a manuscript amendment of 11 April.

I have written an ode on the fall of Napn. which if
you like I will copy out & make you a present of – Mr.
Merivale has seen part of it & likes it – you may shew it
to Mr. G[iffor]d. & print it or not as you please – it is of
no consequence. – It contains nothing in his favour – &
no allusion whatever to our own Government or the
Bourbons.

In this exhibition


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