THE LADIES OF LLANGOLLEN Autograph letter.
Eleanor Charlotte Butler (1739-1829) and Sarah Ponsonby (1755-1831). Known as "The Ladies of Llangollen".
AL. 1p. Llangollen Vale. 14th March, 1794. To Mr Eginton.
"Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Ponsonby are under a necessity of troubling Mr Eginton in regard to a door light of stained glass which Mr Eginton is making for them, according to a design and directions forwarded to him the 2nd February by Mr Tudor [upholsterer?] of Shrewsbury, and which they shall esteem as a particular favour Mr Eginton completing without loss of time, as a longer delay than the middle of next week will be of the most serious inconvenience to them. They further request he will inform them by a line, addressed, within, to Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Ponsonby, Llangollen, near Oswestry, what day it leaves Birmingham and may be expected at Shrewsbury that they may prepare the joiners for putting up the work accordingly. Mr Eginton's speedy attention to this request, will much oblige the Ladies".
Approx 6.75 x 6 inches. A little trimmed at left edge without any loss of text and laid down on old album leaf. Some glue staining and age toning. All else VG.
The Ladies of Llangollen were both Irish ladies of respectable birth, who fled their native country to escape loveless marriages arranged by their families. They settled at the mansion, Plas Newydd in Llangollen, which they set about transforming into an attractive rural idyll, where they busied themselves in the study of art, literature and languages. The décor and reconstruction of the house and estate, including the installation of the stained glass referred to in this letter, soon led them into considerable debt and they were obliged to rely on the generosity of friends and acquaintances. The unconventional and bohemian lifestyle of the Ladies of Llangollen scandalised and fascinated Georgian society but many were drawn to them. Lord Byron, Shelley, Lady Caroline Lamb and Walter Scott were among the many constant and fashionable visitors to Plas Newydd. Among the less bohemian visitors were the Duke of WELLINGTON and Josiah Wedgewood. In more recent times, there has been speculation about the sexuality of the Ladies of Llangollen. It has been suggested that they were the first openly lesbian couple but there is no evidence that this was a sexual relationship.
Provenance: From the 19th century album of Emma Marshall of Penworham Lodge, Preston. Emma was the daughter of William Marshall, landowner and cotton manufacturer and was related by marriage to the Miller family of Baronets, M.P.s and landowners.