Lucasta Miller shortlisted for the 2019 NBCC Awards

The National Book Critics Circle Awards are given each March and honour literature published in the United States in six categories—autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. These are the only national literary awards chosen by critics themselves.

The list of finalists for the year 2019 was announced on 11th January and Lucasta Miller is shortlisted in the Biography category with her book L.E.L.: The Lost Life and Scandalous Death of Letitia Elizabeth Landon, the Celebrated “Female Byron”, published in 2019 by Knopf in the USA and Jonathan Cape in the UK.

The National Book Critics Circle was founded in 1974 and honours outstanding writing and fosters a national conversation about reading, criticism, and literature. The full list of finalists for the 2019 Awards is available here. The NBCC awards will be presented on 12th March 2020 at the New School in New York City.

L.E.L was a Times and Sunday Times Book of the Year in 2019.

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. Lucasta Miller's new investigation into the mystery of her life, work and death excavates a whole lost literary culture.