On 15 October 1838, the body of a thirty-six-year-old woman was found in Cape Coast Castle, West Africa, a bottle of Prussic acid in her hand. She was one of the most famous English poets of her day: Letitia Elizabeth Landon, known by her initials `L.E.L.'
What was she doing in Africa? Was her death an accident, as the inquest claimed? Or had she committed suicide, or even been murdered?
To her contemporaries, she was an icon, hailed as the `female Byron', admired by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Heinrich Heine, the young Bronte sisters and Edgar Allan Poe. However, she was also a woman with secrets, the mother of three illegitimate children whose existence was subsequently wiped from the record. After her death, she became the subject of a cover-up which is only now unravelling.
Too scandalous for her reputation to survive, Letitia Landon was a brilliant woman who made a Faustian pact in a ruthless world. She embodied the post-Byronic era, the `strange pause' between the Romantics and the Victorians. This new investigation into the mystery of her life, work and death excavates a whole lost literary culture.
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Number of pages: 416
Weight: 785 g
Dimensions: 240 x 162 x 39 mm
"In her biography of L.E.L., Lucasta Miller's stellar research blows two centuries of accumulated dust off a phenomenon worth unearthing... This book takes biography to a new level... Miller's determination to distill meaning from fact brings her work close to the sort of detection found in Joseph Conrad, whose aim is to make is "see"." * New Statesman *
"A fascinating portrait of a woman and her times and a heartbreaking song of the fickleness of love and fame." * Economist *
"Wonderfully entertaining... spellbinding." * New York Times Book Review *
"Compelling as a detective story, Miller's revelatory life of Landon is a masterpiece of eloquent scholarship." * Literary Review *
"A valiant recovery job - the life of a writer, a woman first celebrated, then notorious, in her time and nearly forgotten today... [An] infinitely rich literary biography." -- Katharine Powers * Wall Street Journal *