Want to start an argument among a group of Romanticists? Casually drop this query: "Byron had a club foot, didn’t he?"
Suddenly, the room will be aflame with scholars each advancing their own theory as to what afflicted Byron’s limb. I’ve heard everything from infantile paralysis, dysplasia, and a persistent inflammation of the Achilles tendon–alongside the more widely talked of clubfoot deformation.
Despite of whatever his disability actually was, Byron was quite athletic and noted as a fantastic swimmer. Actually, it might be more accurate to say that he was physically fit in spite of his medical condition; as John Galt noted, Byron would exercise ”violently” perhaps to compensate for his emasculating limp.
But what if Byron’s strange limb and notable swimming prowess had a far more disturbing link? What if the same tainted blood that resulted in the dreadful ”Innsmouth look” also flowed through Byron’s veins? Byron’s scandalous relationship with his half-sister August Leigh seems almost natural in light of the inbreeding practiced in that horrid Massachusetts port.
Byron’s deformity wasn’t a clubfoot...it was a flipper.