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Notable throughout the intelligentsia perhaps for her staunch anti-feminist stance, Eliza Lynn Linton was born on 10 February 1822, to the hallowed vicar of Crosthwaite, J. Lynn, in Keswick, Cumbria, England. Her mother died when she was a meagre five months old infant causing her to have a frail and muddled childhood.
The strict upbringing by her father established the urge in her to succeed in life on her own free will. Errant since childhood, Eliza had developed a convulsion for independence and soon started to educate herself in her father’s library.
Early formative years
Convinced after having two poems published in the Ainsworth’s Magazine and determined to make a name for herself, Eliza left her home in 1845 for London, to pursue a self-governing life as a writer.
Much to the loathing of her father. There she got the job of a researcher at the British Museum. Her first novel, Azeth the Egyptian (1846), was written during this short stint. After garnering mediocre reviews for her initial novels, Eliza took a shot at journalism for a change, starting with The Morning Chronicle in 1848.
The early three novels
With the little savings that she had, Eliza wrote her first novel Azeth the Egyptian and had it published in 1846. The book reaped although favourable but mediocre reviews. Her second novel, Anyone: A Romance in the Days of Pericles, published in 1848, too inherited the same fate as its predecessor.
Her third, Realities (1851), was distant to the subject matter of the first two in that it had more contemporary relevance as it critiqued the Victorian community for its inferior treatment of the lower public strata and of women. Deemed immoral, this novel too did not succeed.
Walter Savage Landor
Eliza had arrived in London much to the apprenticeship of the great poet Walter Savage Landor. It was Landor who had introduced her to Charles Dickens. Eliza would later go on to work for the master writer in his magazine All the Year Round, who later admired her for dexterity.
With her arrival as a staff for the editorial team of The Morning Chronicle in 1848, she became the first woman journalist in the country to draw a paycheque. By the end of 1851, she pocketed twenty guineas each month.
Throughout her illustrious career, she wrote more than 300 pieces of fiction and non-fiction for publication and newspaper houses like Literary Gazette, Saturday Review, The Cornhill, All the Year Round, Queens, and Pall Mall Gazette. Between 1851 and 1854, she worked as a correspondent for London dailies while living in Paris. Eliza also joined the Monthly Review in 1866.
Eliza married the politically deep-seated American engraver William James Linton in 1858. William was a widower and Eliza wanted to help him. This selflessness, she would later come to realize was a mistake.
Eliza, a pervasively independent critic of the patriarchal society would often clash with her deep-seated husband. They separated in 1867 on amicable terms but not before publishing a book together, The Lake Country (1864). This marriage would play an influential role in her life as it was this life experience that helped in her later literary ventures.
It was after her breakage from her husband in 1867 that she gained the attention that she deserved.
After William took his children and left for Lake District in 1864, Eliza was able to refocus and between 1864 and 1867, she wrote and released three novels in quick progression namely, Grasp Your Nettle (1865), Lizzie Lorton of Greyrigg (1866), and Sowing the Wind (1867).
This was the onset of the everlasting greatness that was to come for her in the future.
A writer and her books
Widely recognized as the most celebrated Lynn Linton works, The True History of Joshua Davidson (1872), where she chastised the Church for being the bearers of hypocrisy and lies, Patricia Kemball (1874), and the Autobiography of Christopher Kirkland (1885), where she illustrated her life story in the body of a man, are pieces of extraordinary literature.
In her expansive career, she has written collections of stories and a staggering twenty-five novels including Joshua Davidson (1872), The Atonement of Leam Dundas (1877), In Haste and at Leisure (1895), The One Too Many (1894), and My Literary Life (1899).
A journalist and her articles
Eliza gained most of her compliments when she was with the Saturday Review. Her articles during the 1860s and 1870s were strikingly popular amongst the masses for their excruciating appeal.
During her stint as a prominent journalist, she ridiculed, rebuked, and criticized extensively on matters like feminism, marriage, and equal rights. Some of her best articles and essays include The Girl of the Period, The Judicial Shock to Marriage, Are Good Women Characterless, George Eliot, The Higher Education of Women, and Democracy in the Household.
A stout anti-feminist she was very vocal against the New Woman ideal too.
Later years and death
Considered a very witty and forthright personality, Eliza Lynn Linton was a true champion of the anti-feminist. Three years before her death she moved to Brougham House, Malvern. There she lived nearby John Chapman, Westminster Review’s owner and publisher.
In 1898, during a visit to London, she contracted pneumonia and died on July 14 of the same year. My Literary Life, an account of Eliza’s reminiscences was published in 1899.