Title page of 'Don Juan' first edition, 1819 [Library shelfmark: Bk.1/1.31].
John Murray published cantos I and II of Lord Byron's 'Don Juan' on 15 July 1819. This first edition was a large expensive volume priced at £1 15s 6d.
The poem charted the adventures of 'Don Juan' through love affairs, a shipwreck, harem, slave market, siege, the court of Catherine the Great and English society.
The first canto of the poem describes Juan's love affair with the married Donna Julia, and ends with him being sent away on a sea voyage because of the scandal. Canto II continued the story as Don Juan's ship is wrecked and he is washed up on a Greek island.
Because the poem was potentially controversial — it contained personal attacks and some arguably indecent content — Murray and Byron decided that the work should be published anonymously. Not acknowledging author or publisher later led to the problem of cheaper pirated copies of 'Don Juan' being produced.