Costello, Louisa Stuart (DNB00)

COSTELLO, LOUISA STUART (1799–1870), miniature painter and author, only sister of Dudley Costello [q. v.], was born in 1799, and, after the early death of her father, went with her mother in 1814 to Paris. Although not sixteen she was a proficient artist, and was able to add so considerably to her mother's pension by painting miniatures that she maintained her young brother at Sandhurst College, and assisted him not only while he served in the army, but subsequently till his death. Removing after some years to London to practise miniature painting as a profession, and almost unknown, she published in 1825 ‘Songs of a Stranger,’ dedicated to Lisle Bowles. They are graceful verses, and so tunable that some of them set to music became popular. Her pale pretty face and engaging conversation soon gained friends, none firmer or more helpful than Sir Francis and Lady Burdett and their daughter. ‘The Maid of the Cyprus Isle and other Poems’ attracted the attention of Thomas Moore, to whom, in 1835, she dedicated ‘Specimens of the Early Poetry of France.’ This work, by which she first became generally known, procured for her the friendship of Sir Walter Scott, and caused her to devote herself entirely to literature. With her brother, to whom she was devotedly attached, she was one of the first to call attention to the occupation of copying illuminated manuscripts, and she worked at this business herself both in Paris and in London. She was one of the most voluminous and popular writers of her day. Her best books, describing those parts of France least known in England, combine graphic description with anecdotal archæology which varies the narrative of travel and adventure. Louis-Philippe marked his approval of these works by presenting Miss Costello with a very valuable jewelled ornament. She at length acquired by her industry a small competence, which was supplemented by a liberal pension from the Burdett family, and on 9 Aug. 1852 she was awarded a civil list annuity of 75l. Her mother died at Munich in 1846, and her brother died in 1865, when, although she was blessed with troops of friends in England, she retired to live alone at Boulogne. Here she died from the effects of a virulent cancer in the mouth on 24 April 1870, and was buried in the cemetery of St. Martin, Boulogne, on 27 April. She was the author of the following works:

  1. ‘The Maid of the Cyprus Isle and other Poems,’ 1815.
  2. ‘Redwald, a Tale of Mona, and other Poems,’ 1819.
  3. ‘Songs of a Stranger,’ 1825.
  4. ‘Specimens of the Early Poetry of France, from the Time of the Troubadours and Trouvères to the Reign of Henri Quatre,’ 1835.
  5. ‘A Summer among the Bocages and the Vines,’ 1840.
  6. ‘A Pilgrimage to Auvergne from Picardy to Le Velay,’ 1841.
  7. ‘The Queen's Poisoner, or France in the 16th Century,’ 1841; republished as ‘Catherine de Medicis, or the Queen Mother,’ 1859.
  8. ‘Gabrielle, or Pictures of a Reign,’ 1843.
  9. ‘Memoirs of Eminent Englishwomen,’ 1844.
  10. ‘Béarn and the Pyrenees, a Legendary Tour,’ 1844.
  11. ‘The Falls, Lakes, and Mountains of North Wales,’ 1845.
  12. ‘The Rose Garden of Persia,’ 1845.
  13. ‘A Tour to and from Venice, by the Vaudois and the Tyrol,’ 1846.
  14. ‘Jacques Cœur, the French Argonaut, and his Times,’ 1847.
  15. ‘Clara Fane, or the Contrasts of a Life,’ 1848. 16. ‘Memoirs of Mary, the young Duchess of Burgundy,’ 1853.
  16. ‘Memoirs of Anne, Duchess of Brittany,’ 1855.
  17. ‘The Lay of the Stork, a poem,’ 1856.

[Athenæum, 7 May 1870, p. 612; Men of the Time, 1868, p. 204.]

G. C. B.