Reading over the Shoulder of Lady Eleanor Butler…

Michael from Aberystwyth has been a joy to correspond with, lately. His interest in the Ladies, in women travellers in Wales, and in Welsh National Costume is such fun to hear (read) about.

Michael visited the National Library of Wales, and had these wonderful off-the-cuff thoughts about Eleanor’s diary:

I spent a few hours with Eleanor’s earliest journal (1784) on film yesterday. It is very clear and her handwriting is generally good, but the original diary was tiny, and she writes something every day (mostly about the awful weather which seems to have been much worse then than now – but even during a month of deep snow, they still managed to visit others and get visitors).

Her handwriting is quite large, and she used rather a thick pen nib, so in order to squeeze everything in, she compresses the words, and some, especially names, are difficult to read.

On first reading, one phrase appeared to be ‘Lord Machnes from Eddenies’ , so I went back to it after getting my eye in and read it as ‘Some madness from Edwards’  (Edwards’ name appears quite regularly;  it appears that he was a local) but I’m not at all certain about that reading either.

Elizabeth Mavor’s selection from this diary is very limited indeed, and seems to record only the entries which deal with her relationship with Sarah, or her headaches, which are quite untypical of the diary as a whole.

To my delight there are lots of names of visitors of whom I know, but I will have to do a lot more research to check they are who I think they are. So far, it’s yielding exactly what I want…”


Michael’s Elizabeth Mavor book refers to Life with the Ladies of Llangollen, also published (in paperback) as A Year with the Ladies of Llangollen. He’s piqued my interest to look up 1784 in both Mavor and The Hamwood Papers.

You can see the extensive “Ladies”  bibliography by clicking on this link (also on the menu above, and to the right).

The image  (above) is thought to be Lady Eleanor Butler, and is entitled Lady in a Tall Hat. Gathering the Jewels (a favorite website) is currently undergoing some “security maintenance”. Be patient if the picture’s link isn’t working.

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