However, Lettie was already in his house and garden, albeit part of his children's gaggle of friends, and he'd already spotted her two years previously. Then he'd been impressed that she could read poetry AND spin a hoop at the same time.
Across the road, Mrs Catherine Landon discovered how much money there was in poetry, as long as it could be published in something like the London Literary Gazette. She casually mentioned to her new neighbor that her Lettie wrote verse. Might he have a look?
Jerdan made all of the right noises, but didn't exactly rush to acquire any samples to read.
Also in the Landon household was Lettie's paternal cousin, another Elizabeth Landon. The young lady acted as a companion for her aunt, while also a governess for the children. She penned two letters, a few days apart, building upon the promise made to Catherine that Jerdan really would look at the poetry. Elizabeth included some, just to make sure that they were in his possession.
Perhaps realizing that his neighbors could not be brushed off as easily as random people in the street, Jerdan did indeed respond this time. He wrote that there was potential in the verses, and some flashes of genius. But didn't exactly offer to publish any.
In truth - as he later admitted - he thought that Elizabeth Landon was the author. She was nearly thirty, so the poetry might appear a little juvenile from her pen. By now, Lettie was sixteen years old. Pretending that she was the poetess made it cute, and a selling point for his publication.
A short while later, Jerdan perceived an opportunity to expose their ploy. He was in a carriage, crossing London, with Lettie Landon as one of his passengers. As they passed St George's Hospital, he blithely commented that he would love to see a poem about it.
They stopped for dinner, no doubt with the publisher inwardly smiling about his little test. His smugness was soon frozen into shock. Lettie appeared at his side, as he finished his dessert, and slipped some pages onto his plate.
She'd written 74 lines of poetry about St George's Hospital, in the time it had taken Jerdan to dine, and it most certainly contained 'flashes of genius'.