March 2018 – One of these days, I’ll work on non-working links. Some “new” ones I’ve found don’t work. and something seems “lost in translation”  — a lot of these items were originally on a website – and uploaded in the default font of GARAMOND. Still, I might end up going thru and changing that. In short, Apologies.

Biography & Journals

The ultimate source for the diaries, writings, letters, etc. relating to Sarah Ponsonby, Eleanor Butler, their circle and their 1930s biographer Mrs. Bell has to be the five-reel microfilm research collection offered by Adam Matthew Publications.  The actual manuscripts are held at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth. (NLW MSS 22967-96). [see the archives section of collections].


*new* Letters, Papers, and Objects of the Ladies of Llangollen from the Lisa Unger Baskin Collection at Duke University. The link will take you to the collection’s finding aid.


The above includes the documents known in their published form as the Hamwood Papers of the Ladies of Llangollen and Caroline Hamilton, edited by Mrs. G.H. BELL (London, 1930).  Formerly in the possession of the Hamilton family of Hamwood, Dunboyne, county Meath, Ireland, the extracts Mrs. Bell [Eva Mary Bell] made available to the general reading public provided for the first time a thorough account of Sarah Ponsonby and Eleanor Butler from inside sources: friends, relatives and the Ladies of Llangollen themselves.

Mrs. Bell’s foreword explains the provenance of the Papers: “The diaries of Lady Eleanor Butler and a collection of letters and papers, china, prints, etc., was left by Miss Sarah Ponsonby to Caroline Hamilton, the great-grandmother of my cousin and brother-in-law, Charles Hamilton.  Lady Eleanor’s diary for 1785 was given by Caroline Hamilton to the Marquess of Ormonde…. All other volumes of Lady Eleanor’s diaries are in my brother-in-law’s possession….”  Caroline Hamilton, née TIGHE, was the daughter of William Tighe of Rossana and his wife Sarah, the only child of Sir William and Lady Elizabeth FOWNES.  She married her Charles Hamilton in 1801.

Mrs. Elinor Goddard’s journal and letters outline the Irish homelife and “elopment” of the Ladies; Eleanor Butler’s own journals describe the daily lives of the pair once they settle in Llangollen. [dust jacket]


Two subsequent books by Elizabeth MAVOR provide the rest of the backbone for other studies of the Ladies: the biography The Ladies of Llangollen: A Study in Romantic Friendship (London, 1971); and the selections compiled from journals, letters and account books found under two different titles Life With the Ladies of Llangollen (hardcover) and A Year With the Ladies of Llangollen (paperback) (released in 1984 and 1986, respectively).

Feb12 Update: Moonrise Press has reissued Mavor’s The Ladies of Llangollen: A Study In Romantic Friendship.


Readily available to visitors in Wales is the Blue Guide to Plas Newydd and the Ladies of Llangollen, by Gordon SHERRATT (Chirk/Wrexham, 2004).  It is an updated version of the booklet originally written by Sara Pugh-Jones, and includes new information on drawings of the Ladies by Denzil Ibbetson and full-color inserts of these portraits.  The Blue Guide provides a handy pocket-version biography of the Ladies and their home, Plas Newydd. [cover]


Deserving special mention for the early transmission of the Goddard diary: E. Owens BLACKBURNE, Illustrious Irishwomen, being Memoirs of some of the Most Noted Irishwomen from the Earliest Ages to the Present Century, 2 vols. (London, 1877).  In her preface, Blackburne (pseudonym for Elizabeth Casey), declares: “There is a good deal of original matter in the book; I would especially mention some hitherto unpublished poems by William Wordsworth, and the true history of the romantic friendship of the ‘Ladies of Llangollen’.”  Blackburne had at her disposal papers from the Hamwood estate.  Mrs. Goddard’s entries give a good idea of the flight of Sarah and Eleanor – though Blackburne seems the first (and not the last) to introduce a prior attempt at flight: an attempt weeks before that resulted in Sarah breaking a leg.  Hamwood and Maver, via Goddard, place the only aborted attempt in late March-early April 1778; no broken limbs.  Vol 1 and Vol II on The excerpt is taken from volume 2, pp. 291-329.



Mary GORDON, Chase of the Wild Goose (London: Hogarth Press) 1936.  (AKA: The Ladies of Llangollen: The story of Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Sarah Ponsonby).

Morgan GRAHAM, These Lovers Fled Away (Banned Books) 1988.

Doris GRUMBACH, The Ladies (New York: E.P Dutton & Co.) 1984.

Anna CURREN, Love Above the Reach of Time: Two Stories of the Ladies of Llangollen (San Diego: LadyePress, 2001).  See Curren’s website at LadyePress.



W.T. SIMPSON, Some Account of Llangollen and its Vicinity; including a circuit of about seven miles (London: G.B. Whittaker) 1827; 206 pgs.  Excerpt: Plas Newydd.

Catherine SINCLAIR, Hill and Valley: or Hours in England and Wales (Edinburgh: William Whyte and Co.) 1838; 454 pgs, 2 illustrations.  Excerpt: in Llangollen and at Plas Newydd.

George BORROW, Wild Wales (1862) – Chapters VI, X, XVII, XVIII, LI make mention of Sarah, Eleanor and their home, Plas Newydd. At Internet Archive, 1862 (published by Murray): vol I; vol II; vol III.

Martin ROSS and E. Œ. SOMERVILLE, Beggars on Horseback: A Riding Tour in North Wales (Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons) 1895.  Excerpt: Plas Newydd and the Ladies of Langollen.

A.G. BRADLEY, Highways and Byways in North Wales (London/New York: Macmillan) 1898.  Excerpt: The Old Maids.  Also, the Joseph Pennell illustration: Llangollen Bridge.

Cornelia Stratton PARKER, English Summer (New York: Horace Liveright) 1931. Excerpt: at Llangollen.

H.V. MORTON, In Search of Wales (London: Methuen) 1932.  Excerpt: at Plâs Newydd.

Emily KIMBROUGH, And A Right Good Crew (New York: Harper) 1958.  Excerpt: at Llangollen.

Worth a Visit {broken link}, The North American Welsh Newspaper, October 2000.  A very short online article (but with pictures!) on Plas Newydd.



C.L. [Constance Louisa] STALLARD, The Ladies of Llangollen (1955), published in Seven Plays (London: Mitre Press) 1955; 396 pgs.

Lucy GOUGH, As To Be Naked (is the best disguise (1994; held on grounds of Plas Newydd; a “play w/in a play”) presented by Clwyd Theatr Cymru: see a partial script online.

Laura SHAMAS, Ph.D., Lady-Like (3-person play; Ladies plus Mary Carryl); presented by Court Theater, LA, 1991; (New York: Playscripts Inc., 2004): sample (partial script) online; New York Times review

M.L. KINNEY (lyrics) and Bronwen JONES (music), A Bridge of Time. {broken link}

Peter READ, Sarah and Eleanor The Play. Presented at the 2015 Llangollen Fringe



Anna SEWARD Llangollen Vale, with other poems (1796)
Mary TIGHE  <coming>
William WORDSWORTH To Lady Eleanor Butler and the Honourable Miss Ponsonby, Composed in the grounds of Plas-Newydd, Llangollen

A stream to mingle with your favorite Dee
Along the Vale of Meditation flows;
So styled by those fierce Britons, pleased to see
In Nature’s face the expression of repose,
Or, haply there some pious Hermit chose
To live and die — the peace of Heaven his aim,
To whom the wild sequestered region owes
At this late day, its sanctifying name.
Glyn Cafaillgaroch, in the Cambrian tongue,
In ours the Vale of Friendship, let this spot
Be nam’d, where faithful to a low roof’d Cot
On Deva’s banks, ye have abode so long,
Sisters in love, a love allowed to climb
Ev’n on this earth, above the reach of time.


Articles & Miscellaneous

19th century:

Samuel NICHOLSON, Plâs Newydd, and Vale Crucis Abbey, correctly drawn from nature, and engraved, by S. & G. Nicholson (Liverpool: S.&G. Nicholson / London: R. Ackermann) 1824; 11 pgs, 6 plates.

John HICKLIN, The “Ladies of Llangollen,” as sketched by many hands (Chester: Thomas Catherall) 1847; 31 pgs; plates. [; no images] [Tretter Collection on Facebook discusses their copy]

John TIMBS, English Eccentrics, in 2 vols. (Richard Bentley) 1866.  The Recluses of Llangollen appears in vol. 1, pp. 167-170

William Roundsville ALGER, The Ladies of Llangollen, The Galaxy, an illustrated Magazine of Entertaining reading; vol. IV, May 1867 to December 1867 (New York: W.C. and F.P. Church) 1868; pp. 534-540.  Same article at VWales {broken link}.

William Roundsville ALGER, The Friendships of Women (Boston: Roberts Brothers) 1868.  Google offers a scanned version of the 1879 edition.  The Ladies appear in the chapter, Pairs of Female Friends (pp. 294-305).

Edward WALFORD, M.A., Tales of Our Great Families (London: Hurst and Blackett) 1880, second series (in 2 vols.), vol. 1.  The Ladies of Llangollen make up chapter 2, pp. 72-83.

Rev. John PRITCHARD, An Account of the Ladies of Llangollen … Printed and Published by H. Jones at the Atmospheric Gas Printing Works … Llangollen, [c.1884], pp. [2], 12, [2], with an illustrated wrapper/title-page. [AKA A Short Memoir of the Ladies of Llangollen (16 pg; Llangollen: Hugh Jones, 1909).]

John YORKE, Plas Newydd: As It Was and As It Is, With a Catalogue of Its Contents and a Few Reminiscences of the ‘Old Ladies’ By One Who Received Their Welcome in His Younger Days.  Together with portraits of themselves and their faithful servant, Mary Carryl (Llangollen: Hugh Jones) 1888.  Includes a sale catalogue of the contents of Plas Newydd following the death of Sarah Ponsonby; 45 pgs.

The Hon. Mrs. Armytage, Recollections of the Ladies of Llangollen, in Belgravia: a London Magazine (1890): Part 1. Part 2.

Un-named author, The Ladies of Llangollen, The Gentleman’s Magazine, July-December 1895, pp. 401-418. Note: there are some slight problems with this scan.

Helen Marshall NORTH, The Ladies Of Llangollen; The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, vol. LIII, #3, January, 1897 (The Century Company); pp. 424-427, 2 illustrations.

Charles PENRUDDOCKE, The Ladies of Llangollen (Llangollen: Hugh Jones) 1897; 40 pgs; plates. The Irish Monthly‘s review of the booklet.

20th century:

 C.J. HAMILTON – chapter V from Notable Irishwomen (Dublin: Sealy, Bryers & Walker) 1904.  [chapter VIII deals with Mrs. [Mary] Tighe, author of Psyche]

E.V. LUCAS, A Swan and Her Friends (London: Methuen) 1907.  Excerpt: The Ladies of Llangollen (chapter XIII and the opening of chapter XIV).

Marion HARLAND – chapter II from Where Ghosts Walk: The Haunts of Familiar Characters in History and Literature (second series: 1912).

Arthur PONSONBY, English Diaries (London: Metheun) 1922, 1923.  Inclusion of journal entries, few though they may be – which Bell therefore chose not to include in The Hamwood Papers; of interest: his hypothesis that Sarah, too, kept a diary, and his realization that “much may be learned from a recital of items of expenditure” (i.e., from Sarah’s account books). Excerpt: The Ladies of Llangollen. See a letter of Sarah’s.

Margaret ASHMUN, The Singing Swan: An Account of Anna Seward and Her Acquaintance with Dr. Johnson, Boswell & Others of Their Time (New York: Greenwood Press) 1931, 1968.  The Ladies figure in the chapter entitled The Nymphs of the Vale.

COLETTE, The Pure and the Impure (1932) (AKA: These Pleasures; AKA Ces Plaisirs). Excerpt: Sarah & Eleanor.

Muriel C. BRADBROOK, The Elegant Eccentrics, a 15-page article from The Modern Language Review, vol. XLIV, No. 2, April 1949, pp. 184-198; also: Women and Literature, 1779-1982;The Collected Papers of Muriel Bradbrook, vol. 2; 164 pgs. (Sussex: The Harvester Press Ltd.) 1982, where the article is entitled, “Living the Gothic Pastoral Romance: The Ladies of Llangollen,” pp. 3-22.

Sara PUGH-JONES, Plas Newydd and the Ladies of Llangollen, published in Ruthin: Glyndwr District Council; many editions [see above for updated edition].

Helena WHITBREAD (ed.), I Know My Own Heart: The Diaries of Anne Lister, 1791-1840 (New York: New York University Press) 1988.  Excerpt: Anne’s meeting with Sarah Ponsonby.

Morgan GRAHAM, These Lovers Fled Away (Austin: Banned Books: Edward-William Pub.) 1988.

Ronald BLYTHE, ed., The Pleasures of Diaries: Four Centuries of Private Writing (NY: Pantheon Books) 1989.  A short biographic background followed by entries from Lady Eleanor’s journal (extracted from Mavor’s A Year with…), pages 49-52.

Lilian FADERMAN, Surpassing the Love of Men: Romantic Friendship and Love Between Women From the Renaissance to the Present (The Women’s Press) reprint, 1991.

Ceridwen LLOYD-MORGAN, A Local Institution: The Ladies of Llangollen, in Janet Davies (ed.), Compass Points (Cardiff: University of Wales Press) 1993.  An anthology of articles from the first 100 issues of the arts, culture and politics magazine, Planet.

Roger SAWYER, ‘We Are But Women’: Women in Ireland’s History (London and New York: Routledge) 1993.  The chapters concerned with the Ladies are 2 (In the Ascendant) & 3 (Irish Cultural Revival).

Lillian FADERMAN (ed.), Chloe Plus Olivia  (NY: Viking) 1994. Excerpt: The Ladies of Llangollen.

Melosina LENOX-CONYNGHAM (ed.), Diaries of Ireland: An Anthology, 1590-1987 (Dublin: Lilliput Press) 1998.  The diary of Lucy Goddard is excerpted on pages 61-66.  Nice introduction; Blackburne covers much the same Goddard-journal territory, as far as the Ladies are concerned.

21st century:

Hisayasu HIRUKAWA, “Essay on Romantic Friendship, Focusing on the Two Irish Ladies, ” in Journal of Human and Cultural Sciences, XXXI, no. 3, pp. 1-48 (2000).

Alison ORAM, “Telling Stories about the Ladies of Llangollen: the Construction of Lesbian and Feminist Histories,” in L. Ryan et al (eds.), Re-Presenting the Past: Women and History (London: Longman) 2001.

Hisayasu HIRUKAWA, Surangosurenmura no kifujin: inseisuru onnadoshi no fuukei (Tokyo: Kokushokankokai) 2002. [details of this book] {need to put this text on the blog!}

Liz HIGHLEYMAN, PAST Out: Who were the Ladies of Llangollen? online at Letters from CAMP Rehoboth, May 2, 2003. {broken link}

The Telegraph (Travel), Wales: A tale of two ladies ahead of their time, 2002 article

TRIP ADVISOR’s reivews of Plas Newydd “a must see”

Jennifer PETKUS, The Ladies of Llangollen (web article & photos)

Ellen CROWELL, Ghosting the Llangollen Ladies: Female Intimacies, Ascendency Exiles, and the Anglo-Irish Novel, Éire-Ireland, 39 (3-4): 202-227, Fall/Winter 2004.

Susan S. LANCER, Put to the Blush”: Romantic Irregularities and Sapphic Tropes;  Romantic Circles/Praxis Series/Historicizing Romantic Sexuality.

Fiona BRIDEOAKE, “Extraordinary Female Affection”: The Ladies of Llangollen and the Endurance of Queer Community, Romanticism on the Net, Issues 36-37, Nov. 2004-Feb. 2005.

Leeanne O’Donnell, An Extraordinary Affair, listen to the RTE Radio 1 broadcast (2011).

Gathering the Jewels (website) — explore the Ladies of Llangollen theme.


Conference Papers &c.:

Geraldine FRIEDMAN (Purdue) has spoken on:

“The Ladies of Llangollen: Irish/Welsh Border Crossings, Romantic Friendship and the 1798 Rebellion” (2000)

“The Ladies of Llangollen: Sensibility, the Nation, and Women’s Production.” (2002)

“The Ladies of Llangollen: The Welsh Tour, the Nation, and Women’s Production.” (2002)

“Siting Women’s Sexuality: The Ladies of Llangollen and the Construction of Place.” (2003)

“Siting Women’s Intimacy: The Ladies of Llangollen and the Construction of Place.” (2004)

“Friendship as a Queer Keyword.” (2005)

“The Transformation of Landscape, the Picturesque Garden, and the Queer Domesticity of the Ladies of Llangollen.” (2005)

Fiona BRIDEOAKE (Australian National University) has spoken on:

“Queering the Romantic Generations: The Ladies of Llangollen and the Constitution of Romantic Community.” (2003)

“The ‘Saloon of the Minervas’: The Personal Library of the Ladies of Llangollen.” (2003)

“Consumption as Commodification: The Ladies of Llangollen and the Uses of Material Culture.” (2004)

“‘The Future Arrives Late’: The Ladies of Llangollen and their ‘Spiritual Descendents’.” (2005)

“Keep Yourself in Your Own Persons, where you are: The Ladies of Llangollen and Sapphic Scandal.” (2006)

Nicole REYNOLDS (Ohio University) has spoken on:

“At Home With the Ladies of Llangollen: Anna Seward, Maria Edgeworth, and the Place of Women in British Literary History.” (2004)

“Cottage Industries: Studies and Representations of Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby’s Cottage Plas Newydd.” (2004)

“The ‘Ladies of Llangollen,’ Cultural Tourism and the ‘Woman Question’ in Nineteenth-Century Britain.” (2006) {broken link}

Jill H. CASID (University of Wisconsin, Madison) has spoken on:

“Straight Georgic?: Sexual Politics and the Nationalist Discourse of Agricultural Improvement in the Case of the Ladies of Llangollen’s ferme ornée.” (1996)


13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Roger Mansbridge
    Aug 30, 2011 @ 15:53:24

    Hello There

    Nice to see such an accurate site being set up.

    I have two copies of the Hamwood Papers of the Ladies of Llangollen to sell, both first editions and one with original dust cover – also hardback first of Mavor’s The Ladies of Llangollen also with dust cover


    • Janeite Kelly
      Aug 30, 2011 @ 16:44:02

      Hi, Roger — how exciting that you have the Hamwood Papers and Mavor’s bio.

      I’m curious about the Hamwood Papers’ dust jacket — my copy of the book had an “insert” sheet that I have to assume a prior owner CUT off the jacket — for the picture? Who would do that??

      Glad you found the site. I used to have a LOT posted; so be patient. And visit again!!



  2. Roger Mansbridge
    Aug 30, 2011 @ 18:27:19

    hello again

    Thanks for your reply.

    Gordon Sherratt died last October and left me his copyrights to the Blue Guides and other Llangollen related history books – I have the remaining book stocks and the right to republish – I have some figurines relating to the Ladies and Mary Carryll – where are you based?

    Kind regards

    Roger Mansbridge


    • Janeite Kelly
      Aug 31, 2011 @ 01:39:22

      Hello, again, Roger — ah sad news to hear! That Blue Guide is what interested me in the Ladies of Llangollen (a wonderful little booklet). My father and I were visiting Llangollen via canal boat; we both poured over the booklet (which I bought at the Tourist Info offices) that evening – and I was hooked by their tale once we visited Plas Newydd!

      I live in the northern Vermont, just outside of the city of Burlington — got some “long-distance” research underway, therefore. Was last in Llangollen when last in the UK — in 2007.

      BTW, your interest — and your commenting — rather spurred me on to do a little work tonight. More to come (thanks to you).



  3. Jayne Greer
    Dec 30, 2011 @ 14:44:52

    What an interesting site !
    I wonder what The Ladies would have made of it all ?
    We are hoping to include The Ladies in our Hall of Fame at Lissan House . . .re: the Staples family connection.
    Does anyone know the fate of the Sherratt papers sold at auction x Bonhams?


    • Janeite Kelly
      Dec 30, 2011 @ 16:23:55

      Hi, Jayne!

      Ah, I have TONS more to put up. The website used to exist on a server that was taken down and I just need that commodity — time — to get up half of what I used to have online (luckily, no extra typing — I have it all!).

      I would be interested to hear more about Lissan House (must look it up myself, too…)

      Why does the name ‘Sherratt’ sound familiar??

      Cheers! Best wishes for the new year!!



    • Roger Mansbridge
      Dec 30, 2011 @ 18:05:26

      I have been left in charge of any papers relating to Gordon Sherratt’s Historical records etc, also I own the copyright to all of his published works.

      I am curious as to which papers you are referring to and how you know of Bonham’s involvement in the estate.

      Please contact me

      Roger Mansbridge


  4. Ms Appropriate
    Dec 05, 2012 @ 09:56:30

    Hi Janeite, what a superb site. Grrr …only just discovered it, still I’m just so glad I have now 🙂
    I’m an artist who works in Assemblage, women’s history being one of my main interests. Through this I have amassed a collection of Ladies of Llangollen memorabilia ; postcards, figurines,pottery&china, magic lantern slides, horse brasses, toasting forks, tea spoons,etc , these reflect the continuing fascination their story has invoked over the centuries. If they are of any interest to you do let me know.
    best regards & thanks Ms Appropriate


    • Janeite Kelly
      Dec 05, 2012 @ 10:12:36

      Dear Ms A —

      Ah, so great to hear from you! The site was quite under the radar for some time (being a website I set up at a former place of employment); WordPress has enabled so many more more to find it — and contribute to it.

      I’d love to post pictures of your collection, if that is something you’d be willing to share. Or, am open to suggestions. What a *fabulous* amount of unusual items you have collected! Congratulations must be in order.



  5. kathryn paterson
    Jan 10, 2017 @ 09:01:02

    I’ve recently bought a couple of very old (looking) carved oak panels. There is a faded hand-written note on the back of both of them saying that they came from Plas Newydd. I see that there were a couple of dispersal sales of contents in 1918 and 1932 and I would love to find out whether my panels did come from the house. Do you happen to know whether I could get my hands on catalogues of these sales?
    Many thanks


    • Janeite Kelly
      Jan 10, 2017 @ 09:32:14

      Hi Kathryn – what an unusual find! I remember reading about the Ladies obtaining panels, and creating the Plas Newydd we encounter today, but rather exciting to think that sales disbursed some panels as well. Perhaps in times of renovation (later date) it was a source of “souvenirs”? Would be fascinating to see what you turn up.

      _MY_ first suggestion would be World Cat – I’ve often been able (w/o a subscription) to access this at the library, but also thru (the links on the left that says something like ‘find this book in a library’).

      Ladies of Lllangollen blog readers may have other suggestions, so thanks for writing. And certainly hope to hear more!



  6. kathryn paterson
    Jan 10, 2017 @ 11:32:51

    Janeite, very many thanks for your incredibly swift reply. I’ll certainly keep on researching the background to these carved panels.
    kind regards


  7. Rose McMahon
    Jun 26, 2017 @ 16:11:23

    Regarding the wooden panels and sales of items associated with Plas Newydd, the archival component of the Plas Newydd collection was places on loan with the Denbighshire Record Office in Ruthin some years ago, and as I recall it did include various sale catalogues. Otherwise, the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth may have some in their collections.

    As for memorabilia associated with The Ladies, if anyone wants to support thye museum, there is provision for such items to be accessioned into Plas Newydd’s collection.


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