andon was at the height of her popularity in 1825, when she published The Troubadour and Other Poems, inscribed to William Jerdan, “This work so much indebted to his kind surveillance”. As they had promised, Hurst and Robinson paid her six hundred pounds for it. This was more than they had suggested at the outset of negotiations, and the increase was due to Jerdan’s intervention acting as her agent. They had offered her five hundred guineas, (£525), but Jerdan pointed out to Robinson that if the printing of three thousand sold out within six months, which he was sure it would, the firm would gross £1125 at 7s 6d per copy. After production costs of around £350, Hurst Robinson would make a profit of £775. In addition, profits on The Improvisatrice were estimated at £250, plus income from further editions. Landon needed the money immediately, Jerdan wrote Robinson on 30 July 1825, asking him to add one hundred guineas to the five already offered “or say you do not like this and give her in addition to the 500 guineas offered, 20 guineas for every 500 edition after the 3000 are sold. I really hope and expect you will at once do one of these two things, for I have no doubt whatever but that these volumes will put the thousands in your pocket” (Boston Public Library, Quoted Pyle 112). For a man who constantly claimed to have no ability for arithmetic, this was a surprisingly compelling letter and resulted in Landon’s earning an extra seventy-five pounds for The Troubadour, which went into three editions.
This volume was reviewed at length in the Westminster Review, the writer finding the influence of L.E.L. “pernicious” by creating dangerous stereotypes of men and women, that she encouraged her young female readers to “weigh one man’s merit against those of another, to keep her judgement in suspense, till she learn their comparative excellencies,” and of promoting a negative male-warrior stereotype. (Was Landon privately thinking back to her marriage proposal from William Maginn, when she weighed him against Jerdan and found him wanting?) This reviewer took her at face-value. It has since been noted that "Though adroit at analysing and criticising some of the formal flaws in L.E.L.’s work, this critic has no sense of the biting irony with which Landon consistently undermines the image of these ‘heroes’…whenever one of her female characters becomes involved with one of these ‘heroic’ men, she is emotionally and psychologically destroyed and usually ends up dead” (Dibert-Himes).
Dibert-Himes, Glenn T. “Introductory Essay to The Comprehensive Index and Bibliography to the Collected Works of Letitia Elizabeth Landon.” Ph.D. Dissertation. Ann Arbor, Michigan. UMI 1997.
Matoff, Susan. Conflicted Life — William Jerdan (1782-1869). London Editor, Critic, & Author. Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 2011. Victorian Web online version, 2020.
Pyle, Gerald. “The Literary Gazette under William Jerdan.” Ph. D. dissertation, Duke University, 1976.
Last modified 16 July 2020