Lady of the Butterflies

I read this book when it was first published. Set in the ancient marshlands of Somerset, in the shadow of the English Civil War, 'Lady of the Butterflies' tells the story of Eleanor Glanville, the first English female lepidopterist. The Glanville Fritillery butterfly was named after her

The daughter of a strict puritan, her longing for colour and brightness lead her to an obsession with butterflies. During this period butterfly hunting was seen as a purely masculine pursuit, something no woman in her right mind would ever consider, as it could lead to accusations of  witchcraft and madness. 

She kept accurate records of laval food plants and reared a number of species which are identifiable on account of her accurate records. Some of her collection is available at the Natural History Museum.

This is a link to a radio 4 segment on where author Fiona Mountain to discuss the life of lepidopterist Lady Eleanor Glanville.

Somewhat bizzarely there are London records of this species due to an introduction at a Surrey site. Up to 100 butterflies have been recorded on transects so it could find its way to Tolworth. The larval foodplant is ribwort plantain and the butterfly prefers south-facing sheltered sites.


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