Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby — the Ladies of Llangollen


(click to view full-size image)

Lynch, James Henry; after Lady Mary Leighton (née Parker)
The Rt. Honble. Lady Eleanor Butler & Miss Ponsonby
[ca. 1830-1850]
In the late eighteenth century, aristocrat Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby, the young orphaned daughter of Chambre Brabazon Ponsonby, abandoned their lives in Ireland and made a home for themselves in Llangollen, Wales, to the disapproval of both their families. Known as the Ladies of Llangollen, they appeared to have understood their relationship as a marriage. They were part of an emerging culture of relationships between same-sex couples. Their friend Lady Mary Parker Leighton painted a series of watercolors of their home Plas Newydd in the 1820s and 1830s. She drew the Ladies in their library. This engraving by James Henry Lynch is based on one of Lady Leighton's drawings.
Ladies of Llangollen Collection
Lynch, James Henry; after Lady Mary Leighton (née Parker), The Rt. Honble. Lady Eleanor Butler & Miss Ponsonby, [ca. 1830-1850], Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. Accessed January 17, 2022, https://exhibits.library.duke.edu/exhibits/show/baskin/item/4107


February 28, 2019 – June 15, 2019
Duke University Libraries

December 11, 2019 – February 8, 2020
Grolier Club, New York City