Hall, Augusta (1802–1896)
Hall, Augusta (1802–1896)
Patron of Welsh culture. Name variations: Lady Llanover; (pseudonym) Gwenynen Gwent. Born Augusta Waddington on March 21, 1802; died on January 17, 1896; married Benjamin Hall (1802–67, member of Parliament, 1832–37), in 1823; children: one daughter, Augusta.
In 1823, Augusta Waddington married Benjamin Hall, a member of Parliament from 1832 to 1837 and commissioner for works, after whom "Big Ben," the clock at the Palace of Westminster, was named. They had one daughter, Augusta. Hall took the title of Lady Llanover in 1859, when her husband was raised to the peerage as Baron Llanover.
Her activities during the period of the Romantic revival of interest in indigenous, and therefore in Celtic, history were of considerable importance to posterity and to Welsh culture. Although not a Welsh speaker, she organized her household in a "Welsh" manner, giving her servants Welsh titles. She won a prize at the Cardiff eisteddfod of 1834 for an essay on the Welsh language, and became patron of the Welsh Manuscripts Society, acquiring the manuscripts of Iolo Morgannwg (1747–1826), founder of the Welsh Gorsedd of Bards, from Iolo Morgannwg's son. These papers are now deposited at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth. Hall collaborated on the collection of Welsh melodies; established a factory to make the triple harp; assisted D. Silvan Evans in producing his famous Welsh dictionary; edited The Autobiography & Correspondence of Mary Granville, Mrs. Delany (Mary Granville Delany ) in six volumes (1861–62); and wrote and illustrated a recipe book containing color plates of traditional Welsh female costumes (1867).
Augusta Hall's sister was married to a German, who was for a time German ambassador to the Court of St. James, and who belonged to a circle interested in Celtic studies. Hall survived her husband by almost 30 years, and died on January 17, 1896. It has been written that "No aristocratic house had for centuries given such patronage to the national language and culture." A further example of this activity is Lady Llanover's patronage of Y Gymraes (The Welshwoman), the first women's periodical in the Welsh language.
Dictionary of Welsh Biography—1940. London: Honourable Society of Cymrodorion, 1959.
Evans, Gwynfor, Welsh Nation Builders. Llandyssul: Gomer, 1988.
Stephens, Meic, ed. The Oxford Companion to the Literature of Wales. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986.
Elizabeth Rokkan , translator, formerly Associate Professor, Department of English, University of Bergen, Norway