Lucasta Miller

L.E.L.
  • L.E.L.

  • A famous poet, a mysterious death and a story stranger than fiction…

    *FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARDS 2020*

    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 Brontë 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.

    ‘Sensational material brought expertly to life; but Miller’s real gift to the reader is her patient reconstruction of the “lost literary generation” 1820s and 1830s.’ Claire Lowdon, Sunday Times

Dr Lucasta Miller is the author of The Brontë Myth and a literary journalist whose work has appeared in a wide number of publications, especially the Guardian. She has been a visiting scholar at Wolfson College, Oxford and a visiting fellow at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford.