Lord Byron’s Justin Bieber moment
Two hundred years ago, on Feb. 1, 1814, Lord Byron’s The Corsair was published. Byron was already a famous poet, and The Corsair built on the success of previously-published work like The Bride of Abydos and Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. But one of the biggest selling points for The Corsair was Byron’s declaration in the preface that the poem would be “the last production with which I shall trespass on public patience … for some years.” This self-pronounced retirement drove up demand for The Corsair: the poem sold out its entire print run of 10,000 copies in a day, which was an unheard-of event in the publishing world of the time.
Luckily for his fans, Byron’s retirement would prove short-lived: his next poem, Lara, was written within a few months and published in August 1814. No word yet on whether Justin Bieber fans will get similar good news.
On a more serious note: BYU owns two copies of the first edition of The Corsair, one from the first issue and one from the second. The first edition, first issue copy is pictured here. It features an early 20th century binding by the renowned British firm Sangorski & Sutcliffe. The second copy is still in its original paper wrapper, as originally issued by the publisher.