Scandalous Facts About Lady Caroline Lamb, The High Society Outcast

January 26, 2023 | Dancy Mason

Scandalous Facts About Lady Caroline Lamb, The High Society Outcast

Before there was Bridgerton, there was Lady Caroline Lamb. Beautiful and envied in her early society career, Caroline went from belle of the Ton to total outcast in the blink of an eye—all thanks to one of the most disastrous affairs in history.

1. She Had A Disgusting Brush With Death

As the only daughter of the Earl and Countess of Bessborough, Lady Caroline should have had a charmed childhood, if nothing else. Instead, it was a nightmare from the very beginning.

Caroline had an extremely frail disposition, and almost perished from—disgustingly enough—an illness involving worms. Even more unfortunately, the ordeal had a chilling effect on the young girl.

Caroline Lamb FactsPicryl

2. She Had A Scandalous Habit

Growing up, Caroline spent idyllic days running around with her scads of equally well-heeled cousins, but this brief period of innocence came to an abrupt halt. Soon the sickly Caroline, perhaps tired of the painful realities of her ailing life, began taking downers like the opiate laudanum with fierce abandon.

Her parents were aghast at the habit, even hiring a special governess just to keep an eye on their naughty little girl. Maybe that’s why they rushed her into the next phase of her life.

Caroline Lamb FactsWikipedia

3. She Was A Famous Beauty

As she entered her teenage years, Caroline blossomed into an extremely beautiful young woman. With her enormous family connections and her million-dollar face, no one had any doubt that Caroline would land herself an excellent marriage—provided they could keep her wild side under wraps, of course.

In 1805, destiny came knocking. It just wasn’t the good kind.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsWikipedia

4. She Had A Bizarre Wedding

Just before Caroline’s 20th birthday, she married the Honorable William Lamb, an almost equally well-to-do noble with political ambitions. Even better, it was something of a love match, with the pair sharing a mutual crush. But this was no fairy tale.

William’s mother Elizabeth, despite pushing for the advantageous match for her son, actually despised both Caroline and her mother. That’s right, Caroline’s new monster-in-law wasn’t above using the young girl for her own ends…and this was a trend that would only continue.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsWikipedia


5. She Went Through An Unimaginable Tragedy

At first, William and Caroline’s marriage was as promising as Caroline herself, but when it unraveled, it was utterly devastating. Although Caroline got pregnant very soon after her wedding, the child was stillborn. Barely 20 years old and already mourning the loss of her child, her life was going to take another turn for the worse.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsWikimedia Commons

6. Her Body Betrayed Her

William and Caroline were dedicated to each other (for now), and they kept trying to have another child. But there was one dark problem. Physically, Caroline wasn’t well-suited to pregnancy and labor, and her body took a long time to recover between bouts.

So by the time she gave birth to a living son, George, in 1807 and then a premature, doomed girl in 1809, her body was ravaged. And this is when it all began to truly fall apart.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsLady Caroline Lamb (1972), United Artists

7. Her Son Had Mental Difficulties

Caroline’s young son George had been lucky enough to survive past infancy, but it soon became clear he was severely mentally handicapped. Used to the bustle of family life around her, Caroline went against the grain of the time—which would have seen George packed off to a sanitorium—and continued to care for him at home.

Yet this heartwarming decision had painful consequences.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsPicryl

8. Her Marriage Fell Apart

Caroline was still a young woman, but by now she carried the burdens of someone twice her age. With the stresses of her son’s poor health, her body’s difficulty recovering from pregnancy, and her husband’s rising political career, Caroline began to feel alienated from her marriage. Sadly, this is when her horrible in-laws dug the knife in even further.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsWikimedia Commons

9. Her In-Laws Were Cruel

A couple of years of marriage hadn’t endeared Caroline’s mother-in-law Elizabeth to her daughter-in-law one bit. In fact, it got so much worse.

Taking cues from their mother, none of William’s siblings liked Caroline, and sneeringly dubbed her the “little beast”. It was all headed downhill—but no one could have predicted exactly what a catastrophe it would be.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsWikimedia Commons


Sign up to our newsletter.

History’s most fascinating stories and darkest secrets, delivered to your inbox daily. Making distraction rewarding since 2017.

Thank you!
Error, please try again.

10. She Met An Infamous Rake

By 1812, Caroline was 26 years old, tired of her marriage, and frustrated with her life. In other words, she was primed to start a scandal, and that’s exactly what she did.

That spring, she met the dashing and infamous poet Lord Byron for the first time at an event. Byron had already made a name for himself seducing women left, right, and center, but when he locked eyes with Caroline, nothing in English society was the same again.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsPicryl


11. She Sent Fan Mail

Reportedly, Byron was immediately smitten with Caroline, while she at least feigned indifference, ignoring his advances at first. In fact, it was around then that Caroline claimed she called Byron “mad, bad, and dangerous to know,” a dubious epithet that has stuck with him to this day. But then something shifted. 

Displaying a change of heart, Caroline soon wrote Byron a letter gushing about his writing—and Byron’s response set off a chain reaction.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsLady Caroline Lamb (1972), United Artists

12. A Poet Seduced Her

Lord Byron wasn’t one to stand on the sidelines when there was a woman he wanted. Instead of writing her a polite “thank you” letter back, he took it upon himself to visit with Caroline in person.

Once there, he let out his full arsenal of seduction, and it wasn’t long before vulnerable, emotion-starved Caroline gave in. Within days, the affair was in full swing, and the red flags became obvious.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsPicryl

13. She Played Mind Games

From the very beginning, Bryon and Lady Caroline loved to play games with each other. Despite the fact that pretty much everyone with eyes knew what was going on between them, they loudly criticized each other in public, all while carrying on their affair and presumably sneaking off whenever they could to have “private” time. Soon, it reached a fever pitch.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsLady Caroline Lamb (1972), United Artists

14. Her Lover Gave Her A Pet Name

To say that Lord Byron and Caroline Lamb were into each other would be the understatement of their century. Byron took to calling her “Caro,” a pet name she quickly insisted everyone call her, too. The poet also dubbed her, “the cleverest most agreeable, absurd, amiable, perplexing, dangerous fascinating little being that lives now or ought to have lived 2000 years ago”.

Yes, Byron and Caroline were that annoying couple at the table. It was going to hit an intense climax.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsLady Caroline Lamb (1972), United Artists

15. She Was Nearly A Bigamist

Within weeks of first meeting, Byron and Caroline were careening down a very ill-advised path. At one point, Caroline even snuck into Byron’s rooms and begged him to elope with her. Byron, at this point equally obsessed, nearly agreed. Only a more coolheaded friend—who likely reminded him Caroline was already married—stopped him from going through with it.

But there were other, more sinister obstacles in their path.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsLady Caroline Lamb (1972), United Artists

16. Her Mother-In-Law Plotted Against Her

In a perverse twist of fate, Lord Byron was very good friends with Caroline’s cruel mother-in-law, Elizabeth Lamb…so if the matriarch didn’t already know about their very public affair through the rumor mill, she certainly found out about it from the horse’s mouth.

Unsurprisingly, Elizabeth loathed the dalliance—and she began plotting Caroline’s demise in earnest.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsWikipedia


17. Her Husband Stood By Her

From the moment she got a whiff of the tryst, Elizabeth began campaigning against Caroline to anyone who would listen—especially to her son. It backfired hard.

Although their marriage was naturally strained, Caroline’s husband refused to drop her entirely. Undeterred, Elizabeth kept on with her crusade. Then again, she did have some ulterior motives.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsLady Caroline Lamb (1972), United Artists

18. She Flaunted Her Affair

Oh sure, Elizabeth didn’t like that Caroline was cheating on her son, that much is true. But perhaps the bigger problem for Elizabeth was that Caroline was so flagrant about it. After all, Elizabeth had several affairs of her own back in her day, but she prided herself on being consummately discreet with the powerful men she took to bed.

To be fair, Elizabeth had a point; it was Caroline’s lack of moderation that made the next events that much more disastrous.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsLady Caroline Lamb (1972), United Artists

19. She Got Dumped

Byron and Caroline burned hot and fast, and eventually, there simply wasn’t enough tinder. Indeed, Byron tired of her shockingly quickly: By August of 1812, after only half a year together, he broke things off.

With Caroline’s world spinning off its axis, she grasped around for anything to make it make sense. The answers weren’t pretty.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsLady Caroline Lamb (1972), United Artists

20. Her Lover Had A Secret

While Caroline was exploring her passions with Byron, her illicit lover was keeping secrets. Although he was having fun with his mistress, he was also deeply in debt—and very much in search of an available rich woman to marry and settle down with. Someone, in other words, who wasn’t Caroline.

Painfully, his breakup was as much a mercenary move as an emotional one…and the hits kept coming.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsPicryl

21. She Turned Into A Social Pariah

Caroline wasn’t just heartbroken, she was now also damaged goods in the eyes of society—all while, in case you’re wondering, Byron’s reputation suffered almost no damage at all. With nobles turning their noses at her, Caroline’s husband William did what he could to help and packed her off to Ireland to help her recuperate in peace and quiet.

It was a nice idea. Unfortunately, it went about as badly as it could.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsWikimedia Commons

22. She Couldn’t Let Him Go

Caroline was a lovesick ex-girlfriend, and, like many a lovesick exes before and after her, she made a fatal error in breakup protocol: While in Ireland, she began corresponding with Lord Byron again.

For reasons clear only to unserious men everywhere, Byron responded with his own flurry of messages, getting Caroline’s hopes up that there would be a reconciliation.

Spoiler: There most certainly would not. There would, however, be lots of tears. And, as it happens, blood.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsLady Caroline Lamb (1972), United Artists


23. She Got A Rude Awakening

Caroline had spent months away from Byron, only returning to London in 1813. It didn’t matter: She was still just as fixated on him. Though she was skin and bones from the stress of her heartbreak, she nonetheless sought him out in person. His reply stunned and shamed her.

He finally let her know in no uncertain terms that they were through—and then he rubbed salt in the wound.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsLady Caroline Lamb (1972), United Artists

24. She Got Replaced

Caroline soon found out that while she had been pining for her (literally) Byronic hero, the poet had been getting busy with other women. Most notably, Byron took up with Jane Harley, the Countess of Oxford, an experienced seductress who was also 14 years older than him.

Unfortunately, Caroline still didn’t quite get the message. The situation deteriorated rapidly.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsWikipedia

25. Her Love Insulted Her

With Caroline back in Byron’s London orbit, their breakup went from messy to downright monstrous. Byron began insulting Caroline any way he knew how, both in public and in private.

In a particularly malicious exchange, he commented to his buddy Elizabeth Lamb—you know, Caroline’s mother-in-law—that he was “haunted by a skeleton,” commenting on Caroline’s weight loss while abroad. But Byron was just getting started.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsPicryl

26. She Had A Public Shaming

I’m sure you’re now getting the picture that this was a bad breakup. In truth though, “bad” doesn’t even cover it. The next years of Lady Caroline’s life were agony, with Byron sneering at her any chance he could get, but Caroline still unable to accept that they were never, ever getting back together.

Then one day, at a very important ball to honor the Duke of Wellington, Byron had the audacity to insult Caroline in front of all their peers. Her unhinged response has lived in infamy.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsLady Caroline Lamb (1972), United Artists

27. She Became Unhinged

Upon hearing Byron’s insult, Caroline cemented her ruin in the worst way possible. In full view of many of the guests at the soiree, Caroline picked up a nearby glass and tried to cut her own wrists.

Though many assume she did this for its attention-getting effect rather than out of a desire to really harm herself, this didn’t exactly make the situation better. Worst of all, Byron got the last laugh on the matter.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsLady Caroline Lamb (1972), United Artists

28. She Was The Scandal Of The Century

In the wake of this scene—which you can bet everyone was talking about the next morning and well into their weekends—any people who had leftover sympathy for Caroline quickly changed their minds. Because, you know, now that it seemed that Caroline was truly mentally ill, society was even more scandalized by her behavior. Ahem, thank you, patriarchy.

Meanwhile, Lord Byron happily added fuel to the fire, quipping about the dramatics: “Lady Caroline performed the dagger scene”. And that was just the first stop on this shame train.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsLady Caroline Lamb (1972), United Artists

29. She Stalked Byron

Still listening to her heart rather than any semblance of reason, Caroline now amped up her tactics. She began some light stalking of Byron, dressing up as a pageboy and other incognito getups to see if she could gain entrance to his house without him being aware. When that didn’t work, she resorted to even more desperate and creepy measures.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsLady Caroline Lamb (1972), United Artists

30. She Wrote A Creepy Message

After one attempted visit to Byron failed, Caroline took matters into her own hands and wrote “Remember me!” on the inside of one of Byron’s books. When Byron stumbled across the secret scribble, he characteristically did not hold back on eviscerating his ex—and he did it in true poetic fashion.

Byron penned some hate verse in reply, which included the lines “Remember thee! Ay, doubt it not. Thy husband too shall think of thee … Thou false to him, thou fiend to me”. As with everything Byron was telling Caroline these days, it translated to: Leave me the heck alone, married lady. And he had one final insult up his sleeve.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsWikimedia Commons

31. Her Lover Married Someone Else

In 1815, Caroline got utterly heartbreaking news. After dumping her, the still-in-debt Byron had been pursuing the heiress Annabella Milbanke as a bride (all while romancing scores of other side pieces, of course). That year—with grave and accurate misgivings about Byron’s suitability as a husband—Annabella finally said yes, and the pair married.

Byron was now officially off the market. It must have stung immensely for Caroline—and there’s even more to the story.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsWikimedia Commons

32. Her Mother-In-Law Struck Again

Horrifically enough, it was Caroline’s own mother-in-law Elizabeth who once more inserted herself into the situation. As it turns out, Anabella was her niece, and Elizabeth even helped out her bosom buddy Byron by acting as a proxy for his first proposal. It really didn’t seem like it could get worse, even though it did.

But before that, Caroline got to witness karma come for Byron.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsLady Caroline Lamb (1972), United Artists

33. She Watched Her Ex Destroy Himself

Barely a year into Byron’s union, his marriage imploded in spectacular fashion. Annabella, now certain that Byron was a horrible husband, left him and took their newborn daughter with her. But oh, there’s more.

Byron’s continued debt, alongside rumors that he had slept with his own half-sister (yes, really), sealed his ruin at long last. After years of getting off scot-free, Byron was now just as much a social pariah as Caroline. Disgraced, he fled to the continent—and then Caroline got her own personal revenge.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsWikimedia Commons

34. She Published A Tell-All Book

In 1816, Caroline published the Gothic novel Glenarvon. Although technically fiction, the novel spilled her secrets. It contained caricatures of some of the biggest movers and shakers in English society, as well as a pitch-perfect rendition of Byron himself.

It might have been cathartic for Caroline, but it turned into yet another disaster.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsLady Caroline Lamb (1972), United Artists

35. She Was Blacklisted

Although Caroline had put Glenarvon out anonymously, its portraits were so thinly veiled that everyone knew she was behind it. Enter: Caroline’s final society scandal. One of the powerful women ridiculed in the novel, The Countess of Jersey, took exception to her portrait and had all of Caroline’s memberships to an exclusive chain of clubs revoked.

It was, for all intents and purposes, the last time Caroline was truly “in” society; they all but blacklisted her from then on. And let’s just say Caroline didn’t handle her new free time well.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsLady Caroline Lamb (1972), United Artists

36. She Got Her Groove Back

Now, Caroline’s Glenarvon period did actually get off to a good start. Not only was the book a commercial—if not critical—success, around this time she also struck up an affair with none other than the Duke of Wellington, fresh off and practically still bloody from his famous victory at Waterloo.

But even so, Caroline found new ways to make her life all about Lord Byron.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsWikimedia Commons

37. She Upset Her Ex

One of Lady Caroline and Lord Byron’s particularly toxic quirks was that, long after their breakup, they engaged with each other’s literary efforts, writing poetry to, about, and around each other. In one poem, Byron alluded to Glenarvon by writing, “Some play the devil—and then write a novel”.

But Byron had no idea what Caroline was really getting up to in her writing.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsWikipedia

38. She Had A Strange Talent

After months with Byron and then years obsessing over him, Caroline had an eerie and hard-earned talent for mimicking the poet. At one point, she even wrote an extremely accomplished “New Canto” to his most famous work, Don Juan. At other times, though, she used her skills for far less savory means.

In the wake of their breakup, Caroline had once forged a letter purportedly from Byron and then sent it to his publishers, all in a bid to get them to send over a portrait of her ex. Incredibly enough, it worked. But these shallow victories gave way to wrack and ruin.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsLady Caroline Lamb (1972), United Artists

39.  She Got Gut-Wrenching News

Lady Caroline Lamb published three novels after Glenarvon, but we nonetheless remember her more for her disastrous affair with Byron—in part because she never truly got over the tryst. In 1824, she received her final blow.

That February, Lord Byron passed suddenly of a violent fever while abroad in Greece. The aftermath was earth-shattering.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsWikipedia

40. She Mourned Him Deeply

Bryon’s end shocked many of his admirers across Europe, but perhaps no one was as affected as Caroline. When she learned about it, she reportedly fell into a fever, and when she happened upon his funeral procession soon after, she collapsed in the street. However, these were just omens of more heartbreaking acts to come.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsLady Caroline Lamb (1972), United Artists

41. She Stopped Caring

After this point, Caroline seemed to lose all desire to appear “normal” to society. She would have fits of rage where she would break things, or else people would witness her out in public parks riding her horse like devils were chasing her.

She also stopped caring about her appearance and would often show up to engagements unkempt. Then she made a final, fateful decision.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsLady Caroline Lamb (1972), United Artists

42. She Finally Split From Her Husband

Throughout all of this, Caroline’s husband William still stood by her side, always refusing to give in to his family’s wishes that he divorce her and leave her behind for good.

But in 1825—and it seems no coincidence this happened so soon after Bryon’s passing—it was Caroline herself who finally convinced him to grant them a separation. What followed was a complete downward spiral.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsWikimedia Commons

43. She Was Hiding A Dark Side

After separating from William, Caroline took up residence in Brockton Hall. But instead of freeing her, this period only released her inner demons. Since her tween years, she had always had a penchant for laudanum, but over the course of her adult life, it had developed into a serious addiction—one that didn’t marry well with her other penchant for drowning herself in drink.

Within years of her separation, the situation turned dire.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsPicryl

44. Her Body Failed Her

In 1827, Caroline was only 41 years old, but her health was so frail that she was already under the supervision of a full-time doctor. Her body had finally revolted against her, and she was suffering from dropsy, what we call edema today, which is a build-up of fluid in the tissues.

It was clear to everyone that the end was near—and Caroline had a last request.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsLady Caroline Lamb (1972), United Artists

45. She Had One Last Wish

In her last moments, Caroline’s thoughts went to a surprising person: Her own husband William. After the grip that Lord Byron had on her, Caroline finally seemed to shake the dashing poet off in her last years.

Rather than dwelling on her lost love, she asked that William visit her before she passed, saying, “He is the only who person who has never failed me”.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsPicryl

46. Her End Was Tragic

As he had always done, William came to Caroline, traveling a long and dangerous way to be there with her from his post in Ireland as Chief Secretary. It was a heartwarming reunion—but it was also a death knell.

As if she had been waiting to say goodbye, Caroline passed just a few days after William’s arrival on January 26, 1828. She was only 42.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsWikipedia

47. She Missed Out On Becoming A Viscountess

Lady Caroline Lamb’s life started out with so much promise, but it ended depleted and fatigued. Sadly, the years after her passing only underscored this: When she married William Lamb, they had both expected his father would pass soon, turning him into the Viscount Melbourne and Caroline into a Viscountess.

Instead, this happened a mere six months after Caroline’s death. And then came the second blow.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsWikipedia

48. Her Husband Became The Most Powerful Man In England

William Lamb had always had an immensely promising political career, but Caroline never got to see how far he would climb beyond his title of Viscount. Eventually, almost a decade after saying goodbye to his wife, William Lamb became Prime Minister of England. Imagine what Caroline could have done with that title if she’d tried.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsPicryl

49. She Was Too Giving

Caroline’s desires and passions were too huge and wild for the 19th century to handle, and she was unfairly maligned for her mental struggles at a time when women were supposed to be graceful, pretty, and not much more. Even so, none of this excused her creepiest act. 

While in the throes of disappointment about Lord Byron pulling away, Caroline got a strange idea in her head. She wanted to give him a present to remember her by. But the “present” she sent was utterly disturbing.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsLady Caroline Lamb (1972), United Artists

50. She Sent Her Lover A Shocking Gift

In an effort to declare her love for Lord Bryon while he was abroad, Lady Caroline sent him a clipping of her hair. But this was no customary golden lock from her head. Incredibly enough, she clipped her hair, er, down there, and packaged it up to him with a note professing her love. Perhaps the goriest detail? The clippings were bloody.

Looking back, this might have been the real beginning of the end for Byron and Caroline.

Lady Caroline Lamb FactsLady Caroline Lamb (1972), United Artists

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

More from Factinate

Featured Article

My mom never told me how her best friend died. Years later, I was using her phone when I made an utterly chilling discovery.

Featured Article

Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.

More from Factinate

Featured Article

I tried to get my ex-wife served with divorce papers. I knew that she was going to take it badly, but I had no idea about the insane lengths she would go to just to get revenge and mess with my life.

Featured Article

Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but few people know her even darker history.

Dear reader,

Want to tell us to write facts on a topic? We’re always looking for your input! Please reach out to us to let us know what you’re interested in reading. Your suggestions can be as general or specific as you like, from “Life” to “Compact Cars and Trucks” to “A Subspecies of Capybara Called Hydrochoerus Isthmius.” We’ll get our writers on it because we want to create articles on the topics you’re interested in. Please submit feedback to Thanks for your time!

Do you question the accuracy of a fact you just read? At Factinate, we’re dedicated to getting things right. Our credibility is the turbo-charged engine of our success. We want our readers to trust us. Our editors are instructed to fact check thoroughly, including finding at least three references for each fact. However, despite our best efforts, we sometimes miss the mark. When we do, we depend on our loyal, helpful readers to point out how we can do better. Please let us know if a fact we’ve published is inaccurate (or even if you just suspect it’s inaccurate) by reaching out to us at Thanks for your help!

Warmest regards,

The Factinate team

Want to learn something new every day?

Join thousands of others and start your morning with our Fact Of The Day newsletter.

Thank you!

Error, please try again.