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Sarah Ponsonby Collection


Held at: Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division [Contact Us]

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Ponsonby, Sarah, 1755-1831

Sarah Ponsonby was the orphaned daughter of Chambre Brabazon Ponsonby. She lived an unhappy life with relatives in Woodstock, Ireland. She met Lady Eleanor Butler in 1768. Since both women shared a mutual love of the arts and were both unhappy with their lives, they decided to live a quiet rural life. They left Ireland and they set up home in "Plas Newydd," in Llangollen, North East Wales, in 1780. Because they led an unusual and secluded life, Ponsonby and Buttler became known as the Ladies of Llangollen. Their relationship scandalized and fascinated their contemporaries, and they became famous all over Great Britain. Eventually, they attracted the interest of the outside world. Their new Gothic residence became a magnet for writers, intellectuals, and artists, such as Robert Southey, William Wordsworth, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, and Sir Walter Scott, as well as the Duke of Wellington, Caroline Lamb, and Josiah Wedgwood. Ponsonby and Butler lived together for the rest of their lives, over 50 years.

The collections consists of selected letters written by Sarah Ponsonby to Richard Lloyd Williams, Mrs. Jones, or Lady Glyndwr of Wrexham, and others. Ponsonby's letters (14) to Williams, an architect in Denbigh, Wales, mainly deal with health problems which affect her friend and companion, Lady Eleanor Butler, and a problem with her eyes and eyesight. They all date from 1822. Letters (1801-1804) to Mrs. Jones are about information that Mrs. Jones had asked Ponsonby to obtain. The letters also discuss the health of Ponsonby's sister, Mrs. Lowther; her friend Mrs. Myddleton Biddulph and her husband, owners of Chirk Castle in Wrexham, North East Wales; and about friends or events in their hometown of Llangollen Vale in North East Wales, from where all the letters are addressed. Also included is a postcard of a lithograph of Ponsonby and Butler in their unusual clothes, and newspaper clippings of stories about their lives.

Folders are arranged by accession number.

Purchased on October 8, 1970.

Folder inventory added by Nicholas Williams '2015 in 2012.

No appraisal information is available.

Manuscripts Division
Finding Aid Date
Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Collection Inventory

7 Letters Addressed to Mrs. Jones of Wrexham and Others, 1801-1804. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

14 Letters to Richard Lloyd Williams, 1822. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

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