John Cam Hobhouse

Gerald Morgan introduces Byron’s friend and executor; a radical Whig and head of the East India Company during the Afghan troubles of 1835-43.

Devotees of the works of the poet, Lord Byron, will know that he dedicated his Childe Harold to John Cam Hobhouse - ‘My friend H’. Readers of almost any of the books about the poet’s tempestuous emotional life will also know that Hobhouse was his best and most intimate friend from their Cambridge days onwards. They shared the same classical and literary interests and their championship of minority causes.

They also travelled constantly together on the continent. But whereas Byron had amorous affairs without number, his friend had a care for social respectability and was always circumspect. He admired beautiful women but records no flirtations, and, indeed, his only serious affair seems to have been just before his marriage in 1828 to Lady Julia Hay. His courtship of her was cautious rather than ardent; but the marriage was a happy one till she died in 1835, leaving him wretched but with three small daughters to whom he was devoted.

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