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LADIES OF LLANGOLLEN

Letters and Journals of Lady Eleanor Butler (1739-1829) and Sarah Ponsonby (1755-1831) from the National Library of Wales

After 10 years of close frienship, Lady Eleanor Butler (aged 39 and from a prominent Catholic land-owning family) and Sarah Ponsonby (aged 23) eloped across the Irish Channel in 1778 to set up a new life in Plas Newydd, Llangollen.  They espoused the literary ideals of Romantic Friendship, and those of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and they encouraged artists, writers and intellectuals to visit their gothic villa.  Wordsworth, Scott, Edmund Burke, Lady Caroline Lamb, Anna Seward, Madame de Genlis, Sarah Tighe, Hester Thrale and the Duke of Wellington were among the many visitors.

This collection illuminates all aspects of their life and literary interests. We include:

  • All 6 volumes of Eleanor Butler's Journals, 1788-91, 1799, 1802, 1807 and 1821 and her diary for 1784.
  • Sarah Ponsonby's commonplace book and an account of their flight from Ireland.
  • Five volumes of correspondence featuring letters by Henrietta Bowdler, Edmund Burke, Lady Bury, George Canning, Jane Davey, Lady Fownes, Lady Sydney Morgan, Mrs O’Connell, Hester Piozzi, Sir Walter Scott, Anna Seward, Arthur Wellesley, William Wilberforce and William Wordsworth ,
  • Original manuscript poetry by Camilla Blackford, Caroline Hamilton, Mary Tighe, Wordsworth and others.
  • Accounts of books read, a library catalogue and a list of visitors.

This is an important source for all those interested in Romantic Literature, female friendship and literary communities.



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