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Louisa Stuart Costello (1799–1870)

Author of The rose garden of Persia

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Louisa Stuart Costello was probably born in Ireland, although some sources say Sussex, England. She is described by the Dictionary of Literary Biography as having "a pale pretty face and engaging conversation." Following the death of her father, Colonel James Francis Costello, a British army officer who died fighting Napoleon in 1814, she was taken by her French mother to live in Paris. There she supported herself, her mother, and her brother by writing and painting miniatures. She also traveled widely, often staying with friends and acquaintances. Among her circle of friends and admirers were Sir Walter Scott, Charles Dickens, Lord Byron, and Thomas Moore. She published her first volume of poetry, Maid of the Cyprus Isle and Other Poems, in 1815, but her first work to gain wide acclaim was Songs of a Stranger (1825). She wrote vivid travel narratives and descriptions of France, biographies and novels about French and English historical figures, many popular songs, and several collections of poems. She contributed articles and reviews to the Athenaeum and other periodicals. Her book Memoirs of Eminent Englishwomen (1844), was illustrated with her own engravings. The Rose Garden of Persia: A Collection of Translations from the Persian Poets (1845), was published with ornamental borders. Louisa and her brother Dudley Costello drew popular attention to the copying of medieval illuminated manuscripts; Louisa worked at this profession herself in Paris and in London, where her work was exhibited at the Royal Academy. She was also rewarded by the French government with a pension for helping preserve the heritage of France. Her last poem, The Lay of the Stork (1856), mingled fantasy with the serious topic of the Crimean War then raging. She never married.
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