Linton, Eliza Lynn (1822–1898)

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Linton, Eliza Lynn (1822–1898)

English novelist. Name variations: also wrote under name Eliza Lynn. Born Eliza Lynn at Keswick, England, on February 10, 1822; died in London on July 14, 1898; daughter of J. Lynn, vicar of Crosthwaite, in Cumberland; her mother (name unknown) died when she was an infant; granddaughter of Samuel Goodenough; married William James Linton (1812–1898, an engraver), in 1858.

Eliza Lynn Linton was born in 1822 in Keswick, England, the daughter of Reverend J. Lynn, vicar of Crosthwaite. Eliza revealed an independent nature early on and educated herself in her father's library. With a year's allowance and a large, eclectic supply of books, she arrived in London about 1845 to make her way as a journalist. By 1848, she had joined the staff of the Morning Chronicle and had already published her first novel, Azeth the Egyptian (1846). Amymone, a romance set in the days of Pericles, was published in 1848, and Realities, a tale of modern life, in 1851. But her first three "glaringly unreal and emotional" novels were not successful, and for several years she seems to have abandoned fiction.

Linton lived in Paris from 1851 to 1854, working as a correspondent for London papers. When, in 1865, she published Grasp Your Nettle, she had found a new writing style. Her wellconstructed stories were exhilarating and retained tension throughout, although some felt they afforded little "to reflect upon and were entirely without feeling." Lizzie Lorton of Greyrigg (1866), Patricia Kemball (1874), and The Atonement of Leam Dundas (1877) are among the best examples of this more technical side of her talent. Notable exceptions included Joshua Davidson (1872), a bold but not irreverent adaptation of the story of Jesus of Nazareth to that of the French Commune, and Christopher Kirkland, a veiled autobiography (1885). Measured by their immediate success, her books gave Linton an honorable position among the writers of her day, and, having found her audience, she continued to write prolifically until her death.

Considered a kind-hearted and generous woman, Linton was also outspoken. Though her life provided an excellent example of the freedom that could be purchased by an economically independent woman, she was extremely anti-feminist. She was a polished writer whose articles often appeared in the journals of her day; her sketches on the "Girl of the Period" in the Saturday Review produced a sensation, and she was a frequent contributor to the St. James's Gazette, the Daily News and other leading newspapers. Many of her essays have been collected. In 1858, at the request of his dying wife, she married W.J. Linton, the engraver, but the union was soon ended by mutual consent. Eliza nevertheless brought up one of his daughters from his previous marriage. A few years before her death, Linton retired to Malvern. She died in London on July 14, 1898.

Eliza Linton's reminiscences appeared after her death under the title My Literary Life (1899) and a biography was written by G.S. Layard, Eliza Lynn Linton: Her Life, Letters and Opinions (1901).

suggested reading:

Anderson, Nancy Fix. Woman Against Women in Victorian England: A Life of Eliza Lynn Linton, 1996.