Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby — the Ladies of Llangollen


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Legends of North Wales and Reminiscenes of a Short Visit to the Vale of Llangollen
[Llangollen?]: [ca. 1860]
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. While they lived a life of rural retreat, the Ladies’ celebrity and social status meant that their home Plas Newydd became a salon. They built an extensive library, and there they hosted many of the intelligensia of the day, including poets such as Wordsworth, Byron, and Anna Seward; physician Erasmus Darwin; potter Josiah Wedgwood; and the reigning Queen Charlotte. In the nineteenth century there was a thriving industry producing and selling objects commemorating the Ladies of Llangollen.
Ladies of Llangollen Collection
H.S., Legends of North Wales and Reminiscenes of a Short Visit to the Vale of Llangollen, [Llangollen?]: [ca. 1860], Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. Accessed March 20, 2023, https://exhibits.library.duke.edu/exhibits/show/baskin/item/4163


February 28, 2019 – June 15, 2019
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December 11, 2019 – February 8, 2020
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