“Gentleman Jack” on TV

Since I don’t like in the UK or subscribe to HBO I am waiting to actually see Gentleman Jack, the new series that stars Suranne Jones as Anne Lister of Shibden Hall. Friends in the UK are giving the series-so-far enthusiastic “thumbs up”.

Anne and Ann-Gentleman Jack

On the Ladies of Llangollen website, from which this blog evolved (begun in 2006), I had had excerpts from Anne Lister’s meeting with Sarah Ponsonby and Lady Eleanor Butler. Anne is not currently listed as a “visitor” to Plas Newydd, but is found under the Timeline for 1820-1824. You, of course, can read about Anne’s visit to Llangollen in Helena Whitbread‘s publication: I Know My Own Heart (1992), republished as The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister, after the 2010 TV film came out.

Other publications of the Lister diaries include:

  • No Priest But Love: The Journals of Anne Lister from 1824-1826, Helena Whitbread
  • Female Fortune: Land, Gender, and Authority, by Jill Liddington
  • Nature’s Domain: Anne Lister and the Landscape of Desire, by Jill Liddington
  • for other items, see Amazon
  • more podcasts were noted on Ladies of Llangollen (from 2017)
  • more on Anne Lister on my companion blog Regency Reads (2012)
  • Revealing Anne Lister of Shibden Hall on my main blog Two Teens in the Time of Austen (2012)

The TV series has its own “tie-in” publications. Now in paperback is the same-titled biography, Gentleman Jack, by Angela Steidele. This is a well-translated work (by Katy Derbyshire) from the German, which covers all of Anne’s lovers. NOT, evidently, a source for the TV series, new copies of the book come with a photograph of actress Suranne Jones in a different pose (away from the camera), while the tie-ins have photos of her looking at the camera.

SAG-AFTRA Gentleman Jack

Steidele appears in the first of two new YouTube offerings:

Jones and Wainwright are on camera for bit more than 44 minutes, taking a few questions from the audience at the end. Wainwright’s writing credits feature series many will recognize. It was with a nod of “yeap, know that well” when I heard her talk of wanting to direct what she wrote — respecting a previous series, ITV declined because she hadn’t directed. The usual Catch-22, as we often hear. Can’t ‘do’ because you don’t have experience, yet can’t get experience because, well, you have no experience.

SAG-AFTRA Suranne_Sally

What caught my ear, though, was Wainwright’s description of working with the original Anne Lister diaries: “Absorb,” is the word she used. She describes the act of transcribing, as well as the after-fact absorption of the material that then must be done.

IMDB (Internet Movie Database) is indicating that there is already a Series 2 in the future for Gentleman Jack.


Wellcome Library: Essay on The Ladies of Llangollen

butler-and-ponsonbyA quick look for anything *new* on The Ladies of Llangollen brought up this essay on the website for the Wellcome Library.

The short online article, by Sarah Bentley, is a nice ‘introduction’ to some of the people, places, and history of Sarah Ponsonby and Eleanor Butler.

Read also:

Listen also:

The Ladies who were famous

Reader Liz alerted me to an online article, “The Ladies Who Were Famous For Wanting To Be Left Alone,” by Patricia Hampl. It appears on the site LONGREADS.

Hampl’s book The Art of the Wasted Day, newly published in April 2018, certainly speaks to my type of personality – for no day alone is a WASTED day! The Ladies of Llangollen’s history opens the book. One reviewer calls The Art of the Wasted Day “a swirl of memoir, travelogue and biography”. Click on the cover to read more about Hampl’s book.

The Art of the Wasted Day

Of course, I invited all readers to let me know of Ladies of Llangollen-related tidbits you’ve seen or produced. Would love to let all readers know what is out there – whether stores, articles, new books (or old), photos, trips, etc. etc.

Ladies of Llangollen, the Play

News from Norena Shopland:

The Ladies exhibition which premiered in Swansea in February, will now be availble to view at from the 6th to the 16th September at Oswestry Museum. There’s a small mention in this link.
Also, Living Histories Cymru will be doing their play on the Ladies at the Herman Chapell Arts Center on 16 September 2018 at 4:30 PM (doors open at 4 PM).
The play is described as:
As part of the nationwide Heritage Open Days, Living Histories Cymru presents, in the unusual format of a costumed conversation, insights into the lives of Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby, widely known as the Ladies Of Llangollan. Be a fly on the pews in the atmospheric setting of the Hermon Chapel, take cake and tea with the Ladies and listen in on their private conversations revealing much about their shared life’s challenges, choices and their Oswestry friends!
Appearing as Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby
are Helen Sandler and Jane Hoy.
A “repeat performance” will take place at Plas Newydd (Llangollen, Wales) on 22 September 2018.
How I wish I could join the audience at either performance! Tea (coffee, too) & cake before the show; and a Q&A session afterwards. Tickets are FREE.

Courageous & Audacious

Two years ago, Duke University announced a “Happy Day for Women’s History“: their acquisition of the Lisa Unger Baskin collection of Ladies of Llangollen items.

Recent news talks about items in the collection! And now thoroughly catalogued, you can see just what’s available by looking through the GUIDE to the LADIES OF LLANGOLLEN COLLECTION.

The largest part of the collection is the letters written by and to the Ladies. Most of the correspondence takes place between Sarah Ponsonby and her cousin Mrs. Sarah Tighe, along with letters from Eleanor Butler, their neighbor Ch. L. West, and the Fownes family, Sarah Ponsonby’s cousins and former guardians. The manuscripts include poems by the Ladies, as well as an account written about the Ladies of Llangollen by Ch. L. West and an album by a visitor to Llangollen. The papers contain items and images of the Ladies of Llangollen, Llangollen Vale, and the traditions of Wales in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Guidebooks, maps, and printed materials make up the materials about the history of the Ladies’ beloved Llangollen. The images of the Ladies and their home in Llangollen Vale make up the largest part of the image files.

Letters begin in 1774. A great deal of them are letters from Sarah Ponsonby to Mrs. Tighe. (see a photo of Sarah’s fairy handwriting) That these letters survive, and in such a large group, is indeed a miracle.

There are poems by both Sarah and Eleanor; but what intrigues me are two pieces by other hands: an 1826 “account of the Ladies of Llangollen” by Ch. L. West (a neighbor) and a scrapbook album amassed in the 1830s.

Other items in the collection are OBJECTS, such as the porcelain basket pictured:


Click on the photo above to access the read the full article in The Devil’s Tale: Dispatches from the David M. Rubinstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

Keep in mind the items held by The National Library of Wales, and available (formerly) on microfilm by Adam Matthew Publications; as well as early publications based on primary source collections.

UPDATE: Catch a glimpse on Tumblr of some items from the Lisa Unger Baskin collection of the Ladies of Llangollen material

National Waterfront Museum

Norena Shopland invites you to her event, part of the Swansea LGBT History Month offerings:

LGBT month

See the previous post for more information and further “links”. The opening of the LADIES OF LLANGOLLEN exhibition takes place this coming FRIDAY – February 9th.

Swansea Exhibition & other News

An email from Norena Shopland included the following “news”:

  • February: there will be a month long exhibition of the Ladies of Llangollen at Swansea’s National Waterfront Museum (Norena will share the flyer, and more info, as it becomes available!)
  • Also, on February 9, 2018 at 6.30 PM there will be a short play An Extraordinary Female Affection by Jane Hoy and Helen Sandler. This will be repeated the following day at the Pride Cymru event in Cardiff Bay (see the 2018 full program of events). Norena herself acts as host for the evening, and introduces guest speakers after the play.


  • In Shrewsbury, February 6, 2018 at the Shrewsbury Library 7.30pm £3 at the door. First, Norena Shopland will be talking about Forbidden Lives: LGBT Histories from Wales [her *new* book]. Then An Extraordinary Female Affection (a short play by Jane Hoy and Helen Sandler on the Ladies of Llangollen), followed by a Q&A.

To see MORE events, click for Norena’s website Rainbow Dragon. If you’re able to be in Swansea, Cardiff Bay, or Shrewsbury – stop by and say ‘hi’ to Norena, while enjoying an evening’s entertainment in the company of the Ladies of Llangollen.



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