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:

Ladies-basket

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.

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Anna Seward’s LETTERS now complete

seward_kettleAnna Seward (1742-1809) – The six-volume Letters of Anna Seward written between the years 1784 and 1807 appeared in 1811. Volumes 4, 5, and 6 include letters to the Ladies of Llangollen. The most impressive, however, in terms of first-hand accounts of the Ladies, was sent to the Rev. HENRY WHITE of Lichfield, the letter dated Barmouth, September 7, 1795. Their aeolian harp (and Seward’s production of one for her own use) is described in the letter to Miss WINGFIELD (vol. 4; letter XLVII).

I kick myself – for I find I never posted the WHITE letter! The Ladies deserved much better from me.

And I originally thought a letter to Mrs Parry Price was of equal importance until I had to hunt up the original image views of the letters (from microfilm). I was furiously typing, when, half-way through, I realized her letter dated 15 October 1795 doesn’t mention them. No wonder that one never got transcribed…

But I do find a letter to Mrs Parry Price dated 15 September 1795 does mention them. Only there seems to be no letter in my stock pile.  I transcribed it from a copy of Report of the Royal commission on Historical Manuscripts.

The letter to Miss Mary Powys mentions Sarah and Eleanor – could I have meant to highlight that letter? I just don’t remember. It is about this time of year, eight years ago, that I first put up a website (now defunct) about the Ladies of Llangollen. It was in looking for contemporary reports on them, by people who had met them, that I first found dear little Mary Gosling. Her travel diary to Wales in 1821 (Mary’s short story of meeting the ladies) is what lead me to Mary and Emma.

Anonymous Gentleman, c1810

My! how time flies…

Just had to rectify the post that announced to the world: Happy September, while December is well underway!

And a delightful treat is in store: Michael in Wales, who has been steadily feeding news of visitors and their reactions, has uncovered a delightful little story. Alas, by an Anonymous Gentleman. Must admit to wanting to know more about the writer after reading this tidbit. There seems such a delightful sense of humor in his comments.

You will find him posted at the head of the page “1810-1819” in the PLAS NEWYDD TIMELINE.

For those of you new to our LADIES OF LLANGOLLEN website, I should explain. You have two ways of finding such “primary” material — comments about the Ladies, especially visitors to the Ladies — by the menus at

  • A Plas Newydd Timeline – see the menu at the right (or “hover” over that phrase on the menu above) and you’ll have a choice of dates; these are often unpublished works not found anywhere else!
  • Visitors – also on the menu at right (or “hover” over that phrase on the menu above), these visitors are mainly those whose published diaries, letters, or writings mentioned visits to Llangollen and the Ladies.

Both place an emphasis on finding what we hope are the “less-hackneyed” reactions, stories, and encounters. Michael made an interesting observation when, in sending this and an 1830 mention that I have yet to post, he wrote, “it seems the later they are in date, the more they build in their expectations and suppositions rather than actual observation”.

That is what makes such *finds* so fascinating to read!

llangollen

I simply could NOT resist this lovely photo of Winter River Dee, Llangollen.
Happy Holidays!

 

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