Rich, Penelope, Lady, 1562-1607, the "Stella" of Sir Philip Sidney's Astrophel and Stella (1591). Daughter of Walter Devereux, first earl of Essex, she married (1581) Lord Rich (later earl of Warwick); after a divorce she married (1605) the earl of Devonshire.
Ritchie, Anne Isabella Thackeray, Lady, 1837-1919, English writer; eldest daughter of William Makepeace Thackeray. In 1877 she married a cousin, Richmond T. W. Ritchie (knighted 1907). She wrote several novels but is more notable as one of the last commentators who had known the famous Victorians. Her biographical writings include notes for an edition of Thackeray's works (25 vol., 1898-99), Tennyson and His Friends (1892), and Chapters from Some Memoirs (1894).

See Thackeray and His Daughter: Letters and Journals (ed. by H. T. Ritchie, 1924).

Hamilton, Emma, Lady, 1765?-1815, mistress of the British naval hero Horatio Nelson. Born Emma Lyon, she became the mistress of Charles Greville, then of Sir William Hamilton, ambassador to Naples, whom she married (1791). She gained enormous influence with Neapolitan Queen Marie Caroline. Her intimacy with Nelson began in 1798, and after returning to England with him, she bore him a daughter, Horatia, in 1801. Although she received legacies from both her husband and Nelson, she died in debt and obscurity. Portraits of her were painted by many of the famous artists of her day, especially George Romney.

See biographies by W. Sichel (1905), M. Bowen (1935), and M. Hardwick (1970).

Masham, Abigail, Lady, d. 1734, favorite of Queen Anne of England. Her maiden name was Abigail Hill. A plain, intelligent person, she became (1704) bedchamber woman to the queen through the influence of her cousin Sarah Churchill, duchess of Marlborough. In 1707 she married Samuel Masham (later a baron), a groom to Anne's husband, Prince George of Denmark. Mrs. Masham gradually supplanted the duchess of Marlborough in the queen's affection and became the instrument through which Robert Harley, her kinsman, exerted his influence on Anne. In 1714, however, Mrs. Masham quarreled with Harley, secured his dismissal as lord treasurer, and assured Viscount Bolingbroke (Henry St. John) of supreme political power. After Anne's death (1714), she lived in retirement.
Bancroft, Marie Effie Wilton, Lady, 1839-1921, English actress and manager. She made her debut (1856) at the Lyceum Theatre, London, and in 1865 became joint manager of the Prince of Wales's Theatre, London, with Sir Squire Bancroft, 1841-1926, whose entire name was Squire Bancroft White Butterfield. They were married in 1867. With their production of Caste in the same year, the Bancrofts, as co-stars, began an association with its author, Tom Robertson, that was to prove most successful. Their presentations of his plays, which were more true to life than the current melodramas, and their utilization of the reforms of Mme Vestris introduced realism to the 19th-century English stage. They continued their work at the Haymarket theater in London (1880-85). The Bancrofts appeared together until 1886, when Mrs. Bancroft retired. Squire Bancroft was knighted in 1895.

See their joint memoirs, Mr. and Mrs. Bancroft, on and off the Stage (1888) and Recollections of Sixty Years (1909).

Godiva, Lady, fl. c.1040-80, wife of Leofric, earl of Mercia; famous for her legendary ride through the city of Coventry. She was a benefactor of several monasteries, especially that at Coventry, which she and her husband founded (1043). The legend about her, which first appears in the chronicle of Roger of Wendover, states that her husband agreed to remit the heavy taxation on the people of Coventry if she would ride naked through the town on a white horse. The story of Peeping Tom, the only person who looked through the closed shutters, did not enter the legend until the 17th cent. Michael Drayton (1613), Tennyson (1842), and others made Lady Godiva the subject of poems. A bronze statue of her by Sir William Reid Dick was erected in Coventry in 1949.

Lady Slippers (aka Lady's Slipper, Lady's-slipper, Ladyslipper) is a term used to describe the orchids in the subfamily Cypripedioidea, which includes the genera Cypripedium, Mexipedium, Paphiopedilum, Phragmipedium and Selenipedium, distinguished by their slipper-shaped pouches (modified labellums), which function by trapping insects so that they are forced to climb up past the staminode, behind which they collect or deposit pollinia.

This subfamily has been considered by some (Rasmussen, 1985) to be a family Cypripediaceae, separate from the Orchidaceae.

The subfamily Cypripedioideae is monophyletic and consists of five genera. Their common features are two fertile diandrous (that is, with two perfect stamens) anthers, a shield-shaped staminode and a saccate (sac-shaped) lip.

Cypripedium are found across much of North America, as well as in parts of Europe. The state flower of Minnesota is the Showy Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium reginae). The Pink Lady's Slipper, (Cypripedium acaule), is the official state wildflower of New Hampshire. The Lady's Slipper is also the official provincial flower of Prince Edward Island, a province of Canada.

Paphiopedilums are found in the tropical forests of southeast Asia reaching as far north as southern China. Paphiopedilum is quite easy to cultivate and therefore is popular among orchid enthusiasts. In fact, overcollecting of this genus has caused some problems in its original habitat.

Phragmipedium, found across northern South and Central America, is also easy to cultivate as it requires lower temperatures than Paphiopedilum, eliminating the need for a greenhouse in many areas.

The lady's slipper is also known in the United States of America as the moccasin flower, from its resemblance to a shoe or moccasin.


  • Rasmussen, F. N. 1985. Orchids. In R. M. Dahlgren, H. T. Clifford, and P. F. Yeo [eds.], The families of the monocotyledons. Springer Verlag, Berlin.
  • Cash, C. 1991. The Slipper Orchids, Timber Press ISBN 0-88192-183-1. Lists 140 slipper orchid species.
  • Cox, A.V., A. M. Pridgeon, V. A. Albert, and M. W. Chase. 1997. Phylogenetics of the slipper orchids (Cypripedioideae: Orchidaceae): nuclear rDNA ITS sequences. Plant Systematics and Evolution 208: 197-223. PDF
  • Pridgeon, A.M.; Cribb, P.J.; Chase, M.W. & F. N. Rasmussen (1999): Genera Orchidacearum Vol.1, Oxford U. Press. ISBN 0-19-850513-2

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