The life and work of Lord Byron, particularly his connection with Greece, is set to be the focus of an upcoming event by the Hellenic Lyceum of Sydney in honour of the 200th anniversary of the English poet’s death.

The event titled ‘Hellenic Lyceum Book Club Presents 2024 Year of Lord Byron’ will be held on Sunday 20 April, 2.30pm, at the St Basil’s nursing home in Randwick.

The program includes talks from four speakers, a poetry reading and the singing of one of Lord Byron’s poems by a Greek band before concluding with an English High Tea, with two lucky door prizes, a historical fiction book and a bottle of rum named Lord Byron (a popular drink of the poet).

Katina (Tina) Contos, treasurer of the Hellenic Lyceum and one of the speakers for this initiative, explained that it will “highlight Lord Byron’s strong political and emotional connections with Greece and also delve into the mystery of the man, his life, influences and literary works”.

She mentioned that her talk will address his personal and professional life, his scandals and the legacy he left behind (using information researched from the books ‘Byron The Last Journey’ and ‘Byron The Flawed Angel’).

Research books of Tina Contos on Lord Byron. Photo: Supplied

Eleni Kandylas-Mallios will also speak, discussing the romantic literary movement of the time, which Lord Byron was a part of, and his poetry in detail (in English and Greek), using the Penguin Classics book ‘Selected Poems by Lord Byron’ for reference.

“Many of his poems were also written after his experiences with the Greek culture which he totally embraced, ‘The Isles of Greece’ being the most famous,” Contos told Neos Kosmos.

Author Costa Vertzayias will also feature as he addresses Lord Byron’s involvement in the War of 1821 based on his book ‘1821’, a big aspect of the poet’s persevering legacy with Greece as he was among many that tried to draw attention to the conflict.

“He was a famous poet and had friends in England that were part of the Philhellene Association that banded together to support the Greeks with money for military help and also bringing the Greek cause to the world,” she said.

The Hellenic Lyceum Sydney members. Photo: Supplied

Contos stated that his involvement with the War of Independence has contributed to the perception among many Greeks of him as a hero, ensuring the continued study of his poetry (which also inspired many Hellenic writers at the time) in the country.

The final speaker, Marina Efthimiou (a member of the Lyceum since 1976), will talk on a specific connection between the Hellenic Lyceum and the poet, that being the painting of Lord Byron by Sophia Salapatas (a former manager of a Greek Bookstore in Elizabeth Street Sydney from 1962-1986 and now the Ephor for the Lyceum Library in Athens).

The artwork was completed in 1983 in anticipation of the Hellenic Lyceum’s presentation in 1984 for the 150th anniversary of his death at Hellenic House.

Painting of Lord Byron by Sophia Salapatas. Photo: Supplied

“Apparently when Mrs Salapatas found out we were using her painting for part of the presentation, she was honoured,” Contos said.

The event marks the third such Book Club presentation, having previously covered the 100 years since the Burning of Smyrna and the Asia Minor Genocide as well as the 100th anniversary of Maria Callas’ birthday.

Contos stressed that the overall goal of these events is to “present a topic related to our Greek heritage in an informative and interesting way using both fiction and non-fiction books” to enlighten its audience.

She mentioned that the event is free but bookings are essential, with interested guests asked to rsvp to either Tina Contos at 0416 655 561 or Eleni Kandylas-Mallios at 0419 402 034.

Shot from the Maria Callas presentation in 2023. Photo: Supplied