Louisa Stuart Costello

Louisa Stuart Costello, one of the most accomplished and popular writers of her day, was born in Ireland in 1799. She was primarily known as a travel writer, but she was also a novelist, painter, biographer, and poet. After the death of her father, Colonel James Francis, in 1814 Costello moved to Paris where she supported her mother and younger brother Dudley by painting miniatures and working as a governess. The Dictionary of National Biography writes the following about Costello's early career: "Although not sixteen she was a proficient artist, and was able to add considerably to her mother's pension by painting miniatures that she maintained her younger brother at Sandhurst College, and assisted him not only while he served in the army, but subsequently till his death." She published her first volume of poetry, Maid of Cypress Isle, in 1815, but her first publication to gain attention was Songs of a Stranger in 1825. She wrote picturesque descriptions of France and histories of French and English celebrities, which were as popular as her poems and novels.Although she was popular as a poet and novelist, Costello's reputation was primarily based on her travel narratives, which display her knowledge of history, art, and literature, and which coincided with the new English middle-class vogue for foreign travel. Admirers of her work included Sir Walter Scott, King Louis-Philippe, and Thomas Moore, to whom she dedicated her Specimens of the Early Poetry of France (1835). Both Louisa and Dudley Costello were friendly with Charles Dickens, and both published in Bentley's Miscellany and Household Words, which Dickens edited.Near the end of her literary career, Costello published Memoirs of Eminent Englishwomen (1844), which is illustrated with her own engravings from portraits in the Duke of Devonshire's collection. During their lifetimes, both Louisa and Dudley Costello did much to call attention to the occupation of copying illuminated manuscripts; Costello worked at this occupation herself in Paris and in London. Like his sister, Dudley Costello was a popular travel writer. His publications include A Tour through the Valley of the Meuse, with the Legends of the Walloon Country and the Ardennes (1845) and Piedmont and Italy, from the Alps to the Tiber, illustrated with a series of views taken from the spot (1859-61). In addition, Dudley Costello planned a narrative of his travels in Spain, which he did not complete due to failing health.Near the end of her life, Costello became friendly with a prominent family who awarded her a liberal pension. Described by the Dictionary of Literary Biography as possessing a "pale pretty face and engaging conversation," Costello never married. Her mother died at Munich in 1846 and her brother died in 1865. Costello was given a Civil List pension of seventy-five pounds per year in 1852, and she retired to Boulogne where she died of cancer of the mouth on April 24, 1870. She is buried in the cemetery of St. Martin, Boulogne.http://english.unl.edu/corvey/html/Et...
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