Mrs. Langtry

April 2, 2012

Categories: Daffodil Types, Historics, Publications and Resources

Download PDF

From the recent Old House Gardens newsletter, here’s a question about the original name of the historic cultivar "Mrs. Langtry". Maybe Marilynn or another well-versed Daffnet reader can respond.

How Can ‘Mrs. Langtry’ Be Older than Mrs. Langtry?
   The lovely ‘Mrs. Langtry’ — aka ‘Lily Langtry’ — is one of the most popular Victorian daffodils, but its name is a bit of a puzzle, as our good customer Sarah Weinberg of Falls Church, Virginia, notes:
   "Your daffodil ‘Mrs. Langtry’ is either not actually from 1869, or was named after a different Mrs. Langtry than Lily [the enormously popular singer and actress], or else was renamed somewhat after it was bred. Lily Langtry was born in 1853, making her 16 at the time the daffodil was introduced, and she didn’t meet future King Edward until 1877."
   Although we wish we knew more, here’s what we can tell you: There’s a group of important nineteenth-century daffodils (including ‘Conspicuus’, ‘Empress’, and ‘Stella’) whose official date of introduction is 1869, so probably some 1869 book or catalog mentioned them, or maybe the breeder or a later book or reference said that they were developed then.
   ‘Mrs. Langtry’ is listed in an 1884 publication by the legendary daffodil breeder Peter Barr with the pseudo-historic title of Ye Narcissus or Daffodyl Flowre and hys Roots. In the text, Barr explains that the RHS Daffodil Conference of 1884 adopted a resolution directing the standardization of daffodil names and "a committee was appointed to revise the names of new daffodils, which resulted in the substitution of popular names for the Latin ones Mr. Barr had in use." So it seems that ‘Mrs. Langtry’ was bred in 1869 but at first had a different, Latinized name that was then changed by this RHS committee in 1884 to ‘Mrs. Langtry’. If you know more, please let us know. We’re always eager to learn!

Comments are closed.