Queer Tales from Wales

Bringing hidden history to life


Come and see Queer Tales from Wales in a promenade performance as the Ladies of Llangollen in the grounds of Plas Newydd, where the ladies lived 200 years ago! ‘An Extraordinary Female Affection: The life and love of the Ladies of Llangollen’ is on Saturday 3 August 2024. More information here >>


About Queer Tales from Wales

Queer Tales from Wales (previously Living Histories Cymru): lively talks and short plays about women and LGBT+ people from history – with an emphasis on Wales. Led by researcher and performer Jane Hoy, Queer Tales from Wales have toured everywhere from National Waterfront Museum Swansea and Y Senedd, via Museum of Liverpool and People’s History Museum Manchester, back home to our local village hall in Mid Wales. Here are some of the Queer Tales we offer…

An Extraordinary Female Affection: The Life and Love of the Ladies of Llangollen

See an intriguing pair of women brought back to life through letters, diaries, songs – and sensational headlines. 

Ladies of Llangollen

Sarah Ponsonby and Eleanor Butler eloped together in 1778 and became known as the Ladies of Llangollen.

These two upper-class Irish women settled at Plas Newydd in Llangollen, North Wales. They lived there for the rest of their lives, visited or commented on by everyone from poet William Wordsworth to sapphic diarist and industrialist Anne Lister.

The pair were the object of much speculation, which continues to this day. Why did they share a bed with each other, and a grave with their devoted servant Mary Caryll? Was this an 18th-century romantic friendship, or a prototype lesbian marriage?

With their house and garden still tramped through by tourists, the Ladies of Llangollen are a legend. It is a legend that is recounted – with zest and beaver hats – by Queer Tales from Wales performers Jane Hoy and Helen Sandler. (Written and researched by Jane Hoy.)


‘The performance was superb – an evocative, moving, and at times laugh-out-loud rendition of the story of the Ladies of Llangollen.’
– Prof. Matthew Jarvis, University of Wales

Other audience members:
‘Thank you for treating us to your Ladies. I don’t think I will ever forget the flowers and cows.’
‘Brought to life not only the women but also the household and house.’
‘Fabulous evening. Thoroughly enjoyed it.’

The Oldest ‘New Woman’ and her Incorrigible Welsh Friend: Frances Power Cobbe & Mary Charlotte Lloyd 

“A deeply moving and funny animation of these inspiring women’s stories” – audience member

Jane Hoy and Helen Sandler as Mary Lloyd and Frances Power Cobbe (by Alan Hale)

This is a lively conversation in costume, telling the true story of two women who contributed to the struggle for women’s rights in the 19th century, helping to pave the way for the Suffragettes. Frances Power Cobbe (b.1822) was Irish, a journalist, political activist and theologist. Mary Charlotte Lloyd (b.1819) was a Welsh sculptor from Corwen. Frances and Mary were partners for many years. They met in Italy where Mary was studying with the world-famous Welsh sculptor, John Gibson of Conwy. This presentation explores their partnership and conversations they had between themselves and their friends about their lives and passions.

Presented by Queer Tales from Wales. Performers: Helen Sandler & Jane Hoy. Written and researched by Jane Hoy.

Queer Shorts Selection

Especially devised for L Fest 2019: thrilling stories about real-life characters, with a touch of fantasy thrown in 

Amy Dillwyn, ‘Moral Amazon’, played by Helen Sandler

A Moral Amazon Amy Dillwyn was a cigar-smoking industrialist in Swansea in the late 19th century. She also wrote novels – inspired by her dear friend Olive, whom she met in a castle.

Presented by Queer Tales from Wales. Written and narrated by Jane Hoy, with Helen Sandler as Amy.

Note: A Moral Amazon has been expanded into a stand-alone performance, which works well either onstage or – complete with stick puppets – online.

In the Pink House Goronwy Rees joined the Wolfenden Committee in 1954 to discuss homosexuality and the law. His housekeeper, Betti Bronnau, looked after him in his big pink house at Aberystwyth University, just as the rumours began… Written and told by Ruth Fowler.

Queen of the Lake What happens when Eluned from the copper mines of Llanberis goes to work for Merged ferch Ifan, Queen of the Lake? Written and told by Jane Hoy. (Contains women wrestlers and Welsh cakes.)

A Day in the Life of… Alex is living in a care home, where everyone assumes you like milky tea, Good Morning Britain and Vera Bloody Lynn. But when a student arrives asking questions for her project, Alex has a lot more to reveal. Written and told by Nic Herriot.

Queer History Walk

Queer History Walk

A walk round Aberystwyth with fascinating tales of the LGBTQ+ people who have lived and worked there. Led by Jane Hoy.


Find out more

Our latest tour dates are listed on our Facebook page:


Please email us to book Queer Tales from Wales for your group or event: janehoy99@gmail.com