St. James Palace, Marlborough Rd, St. James's, London SW1A 1BS, UK
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Elizabeth Ponsonby (1900 – 1940) was a prominent member of the Bright Young Things, well-connected socialites who featured heavily in the contemporary tabloid press for what were perceived to be their hedonistic antics.
The daughter of Arthur Ponsonby, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, later created Baron Ponsonby of Shulbrede, Elizabeth descended from the Ponsonby Earls of Bessborough. Her maternal grandfather was the composer Hubert Parry. David Plunket Greene, Olivia Plunket Greene and Richard Plunket Greene were her cousins.
Alongside Babe Plunket Greene (wife of David Plunket Greene), Brian Howard and Edward Gathorne-Hardy, Ponsonby was considered to be one of the leaders of the group. Her father was displeased by her notoriety, commenting "I think she is made for better things" and regretting that she was "famous for her extravagant pranks".
In 1926 Cecil Beaton was invited to a party at British Vogue editors Madge Garland and Dorothy Todd's homse where he met socialites like actor Tom Douglas, Elizabeth Ponsonby and Cynthia Noble (Lady Gladwyn). At the party Freddie Ashton performed campy, "shy-making imitations of various ballet dancers and Queen Alexandra, the sort of thing one is ashamed of and only does in one's bedroom in front of large mirrors when one is rather excited and worked up."
Her 1929 marriage to (John) Denis Cavendish Pelly, an assistant in a Bond Street gramophone shop later employed by the Gaslight and Coke Company, son of Major William Francis Henry Pelly of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and descendant of Sir John Pelly, 1st Baronet, was dissolved in 1933, and Ponsonby later entered a relationship with garage proprietor John Ludovic ('Ludy') Ford. She died in 1940, according to her brother, Matthew Ponsonby, 2nd Baron Ponsonby of Shulbrede, of alcoholism.
Ponsonby was a model for Agatha Runcible in Evelyn Waugh's novel Vile Bodies.
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