Elizabeth Hays Lanfear was a younger sister of the feminist novelist Mary Hays. The two sisters were very close throughout their youth and adulthood, sharing similar literary and religious impulses. Both Mary and Elizabeth composed short moral sketches in the early 1790s and both wrote novels during the middle of that decade, although only Mary Hays published her novels. Elizabeth waited until 1819 to publish Fatal Errors; or Poor Mary-Anne, and in 1824 published a conduct book for young ladies. She married Ambrose Lanfear of Islington in 1804 and after he committed suicide in 1809, remained in Islington, a suburb of London at that time, the rest of her life. Like her sister, she was also known to Crabb Robinson and moved in Unitarian circles for the last thirty years of her life, maintaining a reformist outlook in politics and a photo-feminist stance in her writings and private conversations until her death in 1825.

For selections from Letters to Young Ladies, click here. For a complete introduction to the life and writings of Elizabeth Hays Lanfear, along with a new edition of Fatal Errors, selections from Lanfear's Letters to Young Ladies on their Entrance into the World (1824), her contributions to Mary Hays's Letters and Essays, Moral and Miscellaneous (1793), and her two surviving letters to Mary Hays, see Fatal Errors: or, Poor Mary-Anne, a Tale of the Last Century, ed. Timothy Whelan and Felicity James (London: Routledge, 2019).