Michael Rees (Brother Teilo) was joint chairman (with Ian Scott-Kilvert) of the The Byron Society from May 1975 until the close of 1978, succeeding the late Dennis Walwin Jones. He also served as the first secretary, later joint chair, of the International Byron Society, encouraging the development of many of the international societies and organizing a number of the early international tours, including Scotland and Greece in 1976,
Portugal and Spain in 1977, and Italy in 1978, among others. A gifted linguist, he sometimes served as an unofficial interpreter on the tours. He translated Teresa Guiccioli’s Vie de Lord Byron en Italie (University of Delaware Press, 2005), which was edited by Peter Cochran. A dedicated collector of Byron books in many languages, as well as Byronic portraits and memorabilia, he generously donated his entire remarkable collection to help launch the Byron Society Collection as he was preparing to enter the abbey at Caldey Island. A very kind person, Michael was a peacemaker; every person that he met was important to him. His impact on the International Byron Society remains immeasurable.
On behalf of the IABS Joint Presidents and the Elma Dangerfield Prize Committee, we would like to congratulate Geoffrey Bond and Christine Kenyon Jones as this year’s winners of the Elma Dangerfield Prize.
Their book, Dangerous to Show: Byron and his Portraits (London: Unicorn, 2020), is, in the words of Jerome McGann, ‘a book of the visions that transfigured Byron’, combining, as Miranda Seymour puts it, ‘meticulous scholarship and a wealth of information with a glorious treasure-trove of images’.
Ever since his childhood and adolescence and before he became a legendary poet, George Gordon Noel, sixth Baron Byron, felt the sense of escaping from the anxieties of his traumatic present to the glorious worlds of Eastern history and mythology. In Eastern mythology, which he read and loved, Byron approached his own utopia and dystopia without distancing himself from current world affairs. He heard the voice of mythology in various forms: in Nature and its animate and inanimate elements, in nightingales, eagles, roses, trees, bushes, mountains, plains, oceans, stones, and rocks, and in ancient relics, among others. Nature and the ruins of the past spoke to him more truth about God, Man, and Nature than religion and history books. His immediate impressions while being on-the-spot, his mobility, his standing on the borderlines of fact and fiction, and his extensive references to Eastern mythology in his works, created a Byronic myth and enhanced the mythical quality of his works, especially Don Juan, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Cantos I and II, and his Oriental Tales—The Giaour, The Bride of Abydos, The Corsair, and The Siege of Corinth. Lord Byron became an archetype of a legendary celebrity, and his works and some of his characters, especially his Byronic Heroes and Heroines, became universal mythical characters. Among several questions, the book answers two major ones: First, how does Byron use Eastern mythology, including Greek, Persian, and Arabian in the above-mentioned works to render his own poetry mythological? And second, how do his personal affairs and mythological works contribute to the generation of the still living Byronic myth?