A finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography: the fascinating, rediscovered story of a writer who changed English poetry and explored the dark side of sexuality through a woman's voice.
On October 15, 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 as 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, the Brontës, and Edgar Allan Poe. However, she was also a woman with scandalous secrets, and her death prompted a cover-up that is only now unravelling. Lucasta Miller, acclaimed author of The Brontë Myth, meticulously pieces together L.E.L.’s lost career, revealing her as a brilliant woman who embodied a seismic cultural shift, the missing link between the Romantics and the Victorians. A triumph of original research and riveting storytelling, L.E.L. restores a fascinating figure to her place in history.