Count Pietro Gamba (1801-1827), originally of Romagna, became acquainted with Lord Byron in 1820 through his sister, Countess Teresa Guiccioli, one of Byron’s many mistresses on the continent. Though initially opposed to Byron’s involvement in with his sister, Gamba quickly became a close companion and accompanied Byron as secretary and second in command on his second expedition to Greece. Of the memoirs that began appearing after Byron’s death in 1824, Pietro Gamba’s A Narrative of Lord Byron’s Last Journey to Greece (1825), was regarded by Leslie Marchand as the most accurate. It is taken from his personal journal and correspondence; the dedication to Byron's friend John Cam Hobhouse stands as something like an official seal of approval.
Pietro Gamba, his father the elder Count Gamba, and Teresa Guiccioli were all committed revolutionaries. The younger Gamba in particular was a leader of the Carbonari, a group of revolutionaries in Italy during 1814-1821 that resisted the Austrian rulers imposed by the Congress of Vienna. In 1821, Pietro Gamba and his father were arrested for their involvement with the Carbonari. On July 2, 1822, the Gambas were informed by a tribunal that they must leave Tuscany altogether within four days. Though they received a short extension, the Gambas ultimately departed for Genoa; Byron remained in contact with the Gambas through Teresa Guiccioli.
On April 13, 1823, Pietro Gamba was part of the retinue of Lord Byron when he described his secretary to the countess of Blessingtons as “one of the most amiable, brave, and excellent young men he had ever encountered, with a thirst for knowledge, and a disinterestedness rarely to be met with” (Conversations with Lord Byron). The Blessingtons came to agree with Byron and also noted his attractiveness. Byron and his party departed for Greece on July 15, 1823, leaving Teresa Guiccioli behind in Italy.
Gamba’s memoir covers the span of time between Lord Byron’s departure from Genoa up until Byron’s death and the resulting disputes over the cause of his demise and the disposal of his body. As with all memoirs of Byron, it is impossible to escape the narrator’s bias towards his subject, which in this instance is worshipful. After Byron's death Pietro Gamba traveled to England with his sister but soon returned to support the revolutionary cause in Greece. He died there of typhoid fever in 1827 and was buried at the fortress of Diamantopoulos.
In a letter to John Murray of 17 November 1824, John Cam Hobhouse indicates that the memoir was translated by “my friend Mr William Petre,” under his supervision. At the time both Gamba and Hobhouse were both associated with the London Greek Committee.
Pearl Blevins and David Hill Radcliffe