The Byron Journal

Lord Byron’s Deformed Foot: A Medical and Biographical Assessment

The Byron Journal (2020), 48, (1), 57–70.

Abstract

Lord Byron was born with a deformed right foot, which many contemporary accounts suggest was a clubfoot. This congenital affliction consists of several abnormalities that Byron displayed, including a withered calf, short leg, and an inward twisting of the ankle, causing him to walk on the side of his foot rather than on its sole. Other proposed diagnoses do not account for these observations. Byron’s clubfoot did not receive appropriate treatment at an early age, when it might have been corrected. Despite his disability, he became a powerful swimmer, displaying great pride in his accomplishments, including crossing the Hellespont. His deformity caused him shame throughout his life and sometimes engendered derision. He tried, with variable success, to conceal it, even from his doctors during his fatal illness in Greece.

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Author details

Hirschmann, J.V.