Best known by the signature “L.E.L.,” Letitia Landon was one of the most widely read poets of her day. Born into a moderately genteel middle-class family, Landon briefly attended a nearby day school, but most of her education took place at home. She first began writing poetry for entertainment, but when her father’s business losses plunged her family into financial crisis, her mother showed some poems to their neighbor, William Jerdan, editor of The Literary Gazette, in hopes that publication might bring in some much-needed income. Jerdan was impressed, and Landon’s poems began appearing signed “L.” Soon shifting to her better known signature, Landon intrigued the British reading public with her romantic subject matter and luxuriant, sentimental verse style. The Fate of Adelaide, A Swiss Romantic Tale; and Other Poems (1821), her first volume of poetry, met with only moderate interest, but it was followed by The Improvisatrice; and Other Poems (1824), which quickly sold out multiple editions. The success was crucial, for when Landon’s father died that same year, her literary earnings became her and her mother’s only income, and her brother relied on her as well.
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- Letitia Elizabeth Landon (1802–1838)
Mary A. Waters
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