Letitia Elizabeth Landon lived in a blaze of scandal and worship as one of the most famous women of her time: the Romantic Age in London's 1820s. Lucasta Miller tells the full story and re-creates the literary London of her time.
Ms. Miller gives us a thorough view of Letitia’s character as relentless flatterer, flirt and self-promoter, but also as a desperate woman, both raised-up and ruined by her relationship with a powerful but truly awful man ... [These details only touch on] the details of Letitia Landon’s life as patched together and filled out by Ms. Miller, who has ably dispersed a mighty welter of deception, obfuscation and evasion ... Miller quotes and analyzes [Landon's work] with revelatory insight ... In this infinitely rich literary biography, Ms. Miller treats the life and the work dialectically, each informing and shaping the other...
Miller is unafraid of anachronisms and applies them vividly ... Miller delves eagerly into the menacing, male-dominated world of magazines and publishers ... Compared with the anodyne picture of the culture industry in most scholarship, Miller’s portrait is detailed and tenaciously cynical—and truer. In her hands, Landon’s story is a recognizably modern tragedy, that of the female artist forced to earn attention by reshaping her exploitation into a febrile glamour, knowing all the while that eventually titillation will become condemnation.
[An] enjoyable biography-mystery tale ... Her sex life aside, Landon was a hardworking, prolific writer of real talent, cheated and undervalued by London’s male publishing establishment. In a sensitive analysis of her work, Miller sees her as a sophisticated pioneer. Landon’s poetry seems unlikely to come back into style, but her life—at turns funny and sad, but always spirited—has enduring relevance.