[Library shelfmark: CRAWFORD.MB.1609].
Hobhouse to Byron, January 1819
[Library shelfmark: MS.43443 no 82].
John Cam Hobhouse (1786-1869) was Lord Byron's closest friend. They had met at Cambridge University and travelled in Europe together. After Byron had moved to Italy, Hobhouse was an important link between the poet and his London publisher John Murray.
Byron sent his manuscript of 'Don Juan' to Hobhouse to read. In a letter dated 5 January 1819, Hobhouse sent his feedback on the poem. He said that, after consulting others, he felt 'Don Juan' was 'impossible to publish'. Byron's London friends were worried by the poem's potentially indecent content, personal attacks, and mockery of marriage, religion and the British establishment.
Hobhouse and 'Don Juan'
Hobhouse to Murray, July 1819
[Library reference: MS.43443 no 87].
As 'Don Juan' progressed towards publication, Hobhouse had a continued influence in the final version of the work by adding comments to the proofs. His suggestions shaped the published text. Hobhouse's letter to Byron written on 15 July 1819 describes publication day:
'My dear Byron,
Don Juan is this day published … It is in quarto very superb. In order to increase the mystification there is neither author's name nor publisher's name — only T. Davison — Printer — White Friars — London. This will make our wiseacres think that there is poison for King, Queen & Dauphin in every page and will irritate public pruriency to a complete priapism … you may depend upon a great sensation — It was announced thus — Don Juan … tomorrow. There's a way for you!! Mr Murray managed so well that Mazeppa was taken for Don Juan and greadily bought up'.