More on the identity of L.E.L. (1802-1838):

L.E.L. (Elizabeth Letitia Landon) began publishing her poetry at the age of 18 and soon attracted recognition, becoming one of the most popular female poets of the nineteenth century. Throughout the 1820s and 30s, she wrote numerous poems and several novels. She contributed many of these to magazines and literary annuals. Between 1832 and 1839 she edited the Fishers' Drawing Room Scrapbook. This was a hugely popular decorative volume of poetry and engravings. As her success grew, she published several volumes of poetry. Her long narrative poems, including The Improvisatrice, The Troubadour and The Golden Violet, received much acclaim and recognition.

L.E.L.'s increasing celebrity status caused an intensification of interest in her private life. In 1838, to escape the scandal, she married a governor of the Gold Coast renowned for his cruelty. Three months after arriving in Africa with her new husband she was found dead with a bottle of prussic acid in her hand. She was only 36. Suspicions were aroused and a huge amount of speculation about the causes of her death followed.

L.E.L.'s writings were a huge influence on the composition of Rossetti's own poetry. Many of her poems are concerned with exploring the difficulties of the female artist and discuss the issue of the woman and fame.

Rossetti was one of several Victorian writers to contemplate the poet ‘Whose heart was breaking for a little love' (including Elizabeth Barrett Browning, to whose poem the epigraph alludes).

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