Harvard: Sarah Ponsonby’s Album

Liz emailed me today about the Ladies of Llangollen holdings at Harvard University.

plas newydd_douglas album

The above is a “rear view” (detail) of Plas Newydd. Sarah’s album contents are ONLINE! Click on the photo, to visit HOLLIS (Harvard’s library database). The library also has a cover letter to Lady Douglas.

The album is described as “A books created by Sarah Ponsonby and Eleanor Butler… containing 2 watercolors of their cottage in Wales, a plan of the first floor, and an original poem in French.”

I LOVE the note that the album is “bound in quilted white and pink silk cover and enclosed in a quilted white and pink satin case with two pouches and embroidered in green and gold thread. Includes a netted silver thread purse with silver tassels.” A photo of the album itself (or the purse) seems not to be present.


ALSO of great interest is a listing called SOUVENIRS OF Mme. DE SÉVIGNÉ, described as “10 drawings – pen and watercolor; bound volume containing views and plans of houses associated with Mme. de Sévigné”. By Sarah Ponsonby. W-O-W!


Exciting Times

A short post today to mention some new material: A PLAS NEWYDD TIMELINE is now up to 1804. Michael has sent much more, so MORE TO COME.

anna-sewardThe Anna Seward Letters now has 1799 reposted. I’ve many more files from the ‘Swan’ as well. I don’t lack the will to post, only the time to do so.

Have been in email correspondence with Liz, who’s very interested in “The Lollies and the Trollies“, AKA Amelia Lolley and Charlotte Andrew. If readers can help with info, post here or contact me on the gmail account. Liz has news about Sarah Ponsonby’s school. Stay tuned…

E. Owens Blackburne

In email “conversation” with Elizabeth today, I was curious to see again the early writing (published in 1877) on the Ladies of Llangollen by E. Owens Blackburne (the pen-name for Elizabeth Casey). I checked books.google for the two volumes, and have added those links to the BIBLIOGRAPHY page. Then, curious about the writer, I searched for information on E. Owens Blackburne / Elizabeth Casey. I found biographical entries written by her, and this notice on books.google of FIVE LETTERS written by her to Bram Stoker in 1880!

The Slane Times, in a write-up by Nicholas Wells, has a nice bio of the woman referred to as “Novelist, Poet, Biographer and Feminist”. She was born in Slane (County Meath), in 1845. By 1856 an eye ailment caused Elizabeth to lose her sight, for eight long years! Sir William Wilde (father of Oscar) restored her sight. In 1869, Elizabeth began to see her writings — under the name E. Owens Blackburne — in print. She graduated from Trinity College, Dublin in 1873 — and moved to London to continue to write and publish. Of Illustrious Irishwomen, Wells says: “Both her choice of subjects for the two volumes and her meticulous detail in the recording of their endeavours, show her taste in selection and her skill in research.” Her use of Mrs Goddard’s diary was indeed “a first”. Elizabeth’s life came to a tragic end in a house fire in 1894, a month short of her 49th birthday. Her novels — she published twenty — have Irish settings. I’m pretty sure I found Illustrious Irishwomen at my local university, but on microfilm! It was in the days before the likes of books.google or Internet Archive. Wells nicely summarizes Blackburne’s novels, so do take a moment to read the full bio. Women writers, whether novelists or biographers or both – as in Blackburne’s case – deserve our attention.

In looking up her Illustrious Irishwomen, I found this as her opening sentence in the chapter on actress Mrs Jordan (in vol. 1):

“Dorothy Jordan
Born A.D., 1762.   Died A.D., 1816.

Yet another victim to Royal caprice and selfishness!”

Only a strong-minded woman would dare such a statement. Mrs Jordan being, of course, the mother of a number of children fathered by the Duke of Clarence (later: King William IV). My Emma Smith had met one of the Fitzclarence daughters, at the seaside. Small World. Miss O’Neill also appears (vol. 1), as does the likes of Susanna Centlivre and Mrs Mary Tighe (both: vol. 2).

Useful links:

I’d LOVE a portrait of her, if anyone comes across a drawing or even a photo!

Readers Share: Plas Newydd

Liz Cook’s comments about her memories of visiting Plas Newydd — and her desire to share those memories with readers, makes me think that there might be MORE people out there who would LOVE to share their interest in the Ladies of Llangollen with a wider readership.

Now’s your chance! Leave comments below.

By the Way — new for 2013: I’ve repaired the link to Facebook for Two Teens in the Time of Austen, and added my two other blogs as well; so you’ll now see Regency Reads posts and also, of course, Ladies of Llangollen posts in my Facebook feed.

(Hate to confess, other than these auto-posts, I rarely visit Facebook – to contact me, please do so via any of the blogs, or through my gmail account.)


plas newydd booklet

Plas Newydd Timeline updated

Happy 2013: The Timeline has been updated to include visits up to 1804! Includes a visit from Anna Seward (pictured).


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