King's College London
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‘A brighter Hellas’: rediscovering Greece in the 19th century

John Cam Hobhouse

Distant view of the Acropolis in Athens and surrounding landscapeA view of the Acropolis in Athens from the foot of Mt Anchesmus, now known as LykavitosThe politician John Cam Hobhouse (1786-1869) was a close friend of Lord Byron. They both studied at Trinity College, Cambridge and in 1809 Hobhouse accompanied the poet on a visit to Albania, where they resided for a number of days at the court at Tepelene of Ali Pasha of Ioannina, the Ottoman Albanian ruler.

Ali Pasha had used his military prowess to become ruler of Epirus and the south-western region of the Balkan Peninsula. Later, in 1820, he led a rebellion against the Sultan which provided the Greek revolutionaries with an opportune moment to initiate their own revolt against the Turks. From Albania, Hobhouse and Byron travelled to Greece, and then on to Constantinople, where they attended an audience with Sultan Mahmoud II, ruler of the Ottoman Empire.

Hobhouse's armorial bookplateArmorial bookplate of John Cam HobhouseHobhouse published this account of their eastern travels for which he received a fellowship of the Royal Society. The first plate shows a view of the Acropolis in Athens from the foot of Mt Anchesmus, now known as Lykavitos.

Hobhouse was one of a small group of Members of Parliament who actively participated in the London Greek Committee which raised loans for the provisional Greek government during the early years of the Greek War of Independence.

Following Byron’s death in 1824, Hobhouse remained one of the committee's most active members.

Also on display is a book owned by Hobhouse, Itinerary of the Morea by Sir William Gell (London: Rodwell and Martin, 1817). Hobhouse’s armorial bookplate is shown on the front pastedown endpaper.

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