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The Ladies of Llangollen: A study in Romantic Friendship Kindle Edition
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- ASIN : B005CPHSXA
- Publisher : Moonrise Press (July 13, 2011)
- Publication date : July 13, 2011
- Language : English
- File size : 508 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 196 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #899,254 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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In 1778, deciding they wanted only to live together in "romantic friendship", the two women made a break for it, dressing in men's attire and taking a boat to Wales. They were soon hunted down and returned to their families; however, their absolute determination to be together caused the families to finally relent and they were allowed to leave.
After hunting for a place to stay, they leased a house which they named "Plas Newydd" (New Hall) in the small town (or large village) of Llangollen. Here they settled down to occupy themselves reading, writing, drawing and building a much-praised garden. Their lives were uneventful and their days almost rigidly structured, judging from the entries in Eleanor's journal. They were accompanied by a sympathetic housemaid, Mary Carryll, for cooking and basic chores. They also employed other "help", about which they complained much, in the habit of the upper classes. The odd thing is that they managed to do all this in a constant state of financial hardship. They had been allocated a niggardly allowance by their wealthy families, but eventually, through influential contacts, managed to secure pensions. These, however, were often months in arrears - in part due to the Napoleonic wars - so the ladies existed on loans from generous friends. Despite these circumstances, the ladies continually overspent: if the garden needed treatment, or the rooms needed painting, they went right ahead and got it done!
As time went by, they became a kind of tourist attraction: many famous names of the day visited them, including poets Wordsworth, Shelley and Byron and the novelist Sir Walter Scott. They also kept up a voluminous correspondence with their growing list of friends. They became firm favourites in their neighbourhood and regularly gave whatever they could spare to the needy.
Eleanor Butler, predictably, died first, reaching the age of 90. Sarah Ponsonby, who had cared devotedly for Eleanor into her dotage, died only two years later; although only in her seventies, perhaps she did not want to go on living without Eleanor.
This absorbing account of their lives cannot tell us whether they had a sexual relationship or not, but it hardly matters: their partnership was fulfilling for them both and better than many marriages.
Top reviews from other countries
In a perfect world, you'd want the hardback, just because it's so beautifully produced - but get the second-hand paperback, and revel in the world of the Ladies. Elizabeth Mavor's idea of following them through the seasons - for example, a couple of dozen Januaries across fifty years or so - was inspired: you feel the world changing, and yet not changing, around them. What a diarist Lady Eleanor Butler was - and how Sarah Ponsonby's more structured, more literate letters support Eleanor's sharp entries. And if you can, and haven't already, go to Plas Newydd - you can still feel them there, and the ladies who look after it during opening hours talk about them as though they'd been gone only a handful of years.