updated: 01/10/2008

C19th makeups: lady Caroline Lamb

Lady Caroline Lamb (1785–1828) was a novelist and British aristocrat best known for her tempestuous affair with lord Byron in 1812. She coined the famous description of Byron as being ‘mad, bad, and dangerous to know’ – he described her in turn as ‘the cleverest most agreeable, absurd, amiable, perplexing, dangerous fascinating little being’. In 1824, she accidentally came across Byron’s funeral cortège on its way to his burial place, and this incident led to a breakdown, and rumoured insanity; she lived her last years in seclusion at Brocket Hall. She was the niece of Georgiana Cavendish, duchess of Devonshire, and after her death her husband – by then Viscount Melbourne – became Prime Minister.

Byron (2003): Sees Byron as a tortured, self-indulgent, nineteenth-century rock star enroute to a tragic end without attempting to enlighten us to the nature of his genius. Lady Caroline Lamb (Camilla Power) was one his groupies, but he really lusted after his sister, Augusta Leigh. Daniel Phillips was hair & makeup designer; John Henry Gordon was key makeup artist.

Lady Caroline Lamb (1972): For reasons best known to themselves Variety described this movie as ‘ a lushly, unabashedly romantic – yet tastefully executed – tale’. Utter bollocks – this is more Ken Russell than Robert Bolt. A seriously-unhinged Caroline Lamb (Sarah Miles) stalks the dashing lord Byron; at one point she attends a society ball in blackface as his slave, clearly one of the ‘obvious parallels in present-day femme [sic] emancipation’ that Variety found. I was so seriously perturbed by that review that I had to double check that it was indeed referring to the same movie. George Frost was the makeup artist.