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The Byrothon: ‘an extraordinary collaboration’

The Byrothon.... a 200 year tribute to Byron. Trinity College 24th Feb 2024

More than 2500 people online and in person watched Trinity’s Byrothon, the 24-hour reading of alumnus Lord Byron’s works, which launched the College’s bicentenary commemoration of the poet’s death.

ITV News Anglia, Cambridge Independent, BBC Radio 4 and Reuters covered the event in which 80-plus students, staff, Fellows and alumni read aloud 185,000 words from Byron’s poems and letters in the College’s Antechapel.

Student Jaysol Doy.

Feedback from those who came in person and watched the livestream – including from Toronto, Washington, Nicosia, Sydney, Hong Kong, Wisconsin, Perth, Milan, Los Angeles, and Paris – was overwhelmingly positive.

‘Love your beautiful poems,’ wrote five-year-old Nanki, who came with her family.

‘Moments of Cambridge magic. Hooray!’ said another visitor.

‘What an absolutely brilliant idea. The readers are dramatic and so beautifully presented,’ wrote a member of the public, who stumbled upon the event.


Among the alumni reading were writer Freya Berry, theatre director Atri Banerjee, the current Lord Byron, and actor Pip Torrens, who kicked off the Byrothon with She Walks in Beauty.

Torrens said Byron was a fantastically inspiring poet. ‘He’s absolutely amazing … what strikes you is the unbelievable facility he has for verse in its many forms.’ From the epics of Childe Harold and Don Juan to sea shanties and love poetry, Byron’s works underlined the importance – and pleasure – reading poetry aloud, he said.

The current Lord Byron said The Byrothon was ‘a brilliant idea’ which he would not have missed. Asked what it was like being Lord Byron, he said: ‘There are plenty of Lords around, but if you’re going to have a title, I think Byron is a pretty good one to have.’

Cornelius Shanahan from the Catering Department.

Among those watching the livestream was Andrew Stauffer, author of Byron: A Life in Ten Letters, who wrote: ‘Byron would be so tickled – chuffed but ironic about it – to hear all of his words echoing through the halls of his old college. Bravo, all.’

As the sun set and the Antechapel glowed on the Friday afternoon, the ghost of Lord Byron emerged – the result of a theatrical technique recreated by Trinity engineers, Dr Joe Stallard and Andrew Farquharson.

Student Anna Peterson.


Dr Anne Toner reading early on Saturday morning.

Emeritus Fellow in English Literature Professor Adrian Poole who directed The Byrothon said he was delighted by the response.

It was a resounding success – if I say so myself, but also on behalf of everyone who took part, whether as readers, the audience in person and online, or as organisers.

In over 50 years at Trinity now I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such an extraordinary collaboration, including Works Department staff, Porters, Chapel and Catering, not to mention the 80-plus readers.

There have been many expressions of appreciation by readers and listeners alike, whether they came and listened in the wonderfully atmospheric Antechapel or watched the livestream of the event (many of them thousands of miles away.)

One fan watching online in the dark hours wrote: “It looked and sounded wonderful. The ghost glass artwork was inspired. The lighting really was spectacular. And the acoustics. Magical. The staging felt intimate. We felt like we were drawn in and part of the occasion.”’

There is more about Byron to come at Trinity. Sign up for the Bicentenary Commemoration conference on 19 and 20 April. The ghost of Byron will once again haunt the Antechapel in April (watch this space for the dates.)

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