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Collections | Literary & Historical Manuscripts

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Byron image

George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788–1824)
Don Juan
Autograph manuscript, 1818–20
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1900; MA 56
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Byron's manuscript of Don Juan reveals a fluid hand, the author often working with minimal revision to achieve a swift, conversational pace despite the complexity of his chosen rhyme scheme, ottava rima. Shortly after composing the first canto, page of which is shown here, Byron added several dozen stanzas to the poem. He then recopied some of the new stanzas crosswise, in a neat and regular hand, directly over the first draft. "The bore of copying it out is intolerable," he told a friend after completing the first canto, "and if I had an amanuensis he would be of no use, as my writing is so difficult to decipher."

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The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.