Monday, 13 July 2009

The Ladies of Llangollen

I just found out about these two lovely ladies, who were intellectuals and very close friends.
The Ladies of Llangollen were two upper-class Anglo-Irish women whose relationship scandalised and fascinated their contemporaries. The Ladies are interesting today as an example of historical romantic friendship (and some would argue lesbianism).

Lady Eleanor Butler (1739–1829) was considered an over-educated bookworm by her family, who occupied Kilkenny Castle. She spoke French and was educated in a convent in France. Her mother tried to make her join a convent because she was becoming a spinster.

The Honourable Sarah Ponsonby (1755–1832) lived with relatives in Woodstock, Ireland. She was a second cousin of Frederick Ponsonby, 3rd Earl of Bessborough, and thus a "second-cousin-once-removed" of his daughter the Lady Caroline Lamb.

Apparently they had a lapdog called Sappho. They lived at Plas Newydd, and their friends included Robert Southey, Wordsworth, Shelley, Byron and Scott, but also the Duke of Wellington; industrialist Josiah Wedgwood; and aristocratic novelist Caroline Lamb.

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