Cover of 'Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine', 1819, [Library shelfmark: NJ.322].
Lord Byron's 'Don Juan' was a tale of a young man's adventures through many lands and love affairs.
Byron wrote the work in a satirical style, poking fun at religion and marriage and attacking fellow authors and the British establishment.
Cantos I and II of the work were published by John Murray on 15 July 1819. Because of its controversial nature, the work was published anonymously, but it was widely assumed that Byron was author and Murray publisher.
Edinburgh publisher William Blackwood wrote to Murray on 21 July 1819 saying he had received copies of 'Don Juan' with no indication from whom they had been sent. He asked what to do with the books as he said he could not sell them.
Blackwood was Murray's Scottish agent, and also the publisher of the influential 'Blackwood's Magazine' which had a reputation for fierce reviews and attacks on authors.
August 1819, [Library shelfmark: NJ.322].
A review of 'Don Juan' was published in 'Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine' in August 1819.
In an article running to three pages, the magazine condemned 'Don Juan' as 'filthy and impious'. The reviewer felt that Byron had turned on his readers by mocking their values:
'Love — honour — patriotism — religion, are mentioned only to be scoffed at and derided, as if their sole resting-place were or ought to be, in the bosoms of fools'.
Read more about the reaction to 'Don Juan' from reader Harriette Wilson.