Lot 264 of 395:
1849 ALs from Lord Byron’s Incestuous sister  

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Lot closed - Sold For (Includes Buyers Premium):$510
$700 - $1,000

Autograph Letter Signed - 1849 Lord Byron’s Incestuous sister

Leigh, Augusta

St. James Palace, London


April 5 [1849]


4 pp.

To Mrs. (Charles) Kean, sending condolences on the death of her mother-in-law, “I hope I shall not appear troublesome in writing you a few lines to inquire of the good Mr. Kean and assure you how truly and deeply we have sympathized in your grief from the sad event, of which the newspapers informed us. There never was…never will be any one like dear Mrs. Kean again in point of kindness and friendship and for that shown by her to me and Emily we shall ever entertain the most grateful remembrance. If you should have a spare moment, to give me any detail of her last hours or days, it would be very kind in you to do so. … I trust she was spared severe suffering and that her son bears up under a loss which in most cases (and certainly in his) is generally irreparable…” Augusta Maria Byron Leigh (1783-1851) was the daughter of the poet Byron’s father by his first wife, who died shortly after her baby’s birth. Augusta was raised by various relatives and did not meet her half-brother until they were teenagers, about the time she married her first cousin, an Army Colonel and a “fool” who gambled away all his money. Augusta then apparently fell in love with Byron and they had an incestuous affair, Byron probably fathering Augusta’s third child. After Byron’s death at 36, while her husband impoverished his family, Augusta lived with her sister Emily and her seven children, supported, despite the scandal which surrounded her, by close friends like actor Charles Kean, who had a sad story of his own: His father, also an illustrious actor, had ruined his career by deserting Charles’ mother to cohabit with the wife of a London city alderman, who then sued him for adultery. Charles continued to support his mother – whose death Augusta laments in this letter – before and after his marriage to accomplished actress Ellen Tree, to whom this letter is written. Later that same year, Augusta’s daughter Medora – fathered by Byron – died in poverty in France, after an abortion and disastrous affair with her brother-in-law. A year later, Augusta’s dissolute husband died, leaving her nothing but debt.  Augusta herself died soon after.

Lot Amendments

Lightly yellowed at edges; very good.

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