top of page

Lady Of The Butterflies

Lady of the Butterflies’ is based on the true story of Lady Eleanor Glanville, the first female butterfly collector. The Glanville Fritillary is named after her but she is best remembered for the fact that her relations overturned her will on the grounds that no sane person would 'go in pursuit of butterflies.


Set in Somerset and London during the turbulent time of the Restoration, ‘Lady of the Butterflies’ is a dramatic tale of passion, prejudice and death by poison, of riot and rebellion, science and superstition, madness and metamorphosis. It is also about the beauty of butterflies, about hope, transformation and redemption.


Eleanor is the daughter of a strict puritan and Roundhead major and lives in a medieval manor on the bleak wetlands of Somerset. Her longing for colour and brightness leads to an obsession with butterflies as well as to an illicit passion for charismatic but troubled Richard Glanville. 


Richard, the son of an exiled Cavalier, embodies all that Eleanor had been taught to despise and distrust, but he also holds for her all the allure of the forbidden. Her first husband dies, seemingly poisoned, freeing Eleanor and Richard to marry. But can their love survive suspicion and prejudice, a bloody rebellion which makes them bitter enemies, and a superstitious community that stirs up hatred towards her for her love of butterflies? 


It seems the only peace she can find is in her long-lasting friendship with renowned naturalist James Petiver, a clever young London apothecary who is credited as the father of British entomology. But when Eleanor and Richard's son becomes apprenticed to James, tragedy strikes, and Eleanor is forced to embark on a dangerous search for her son that is entwined with a personal quest for truth, freedom and love.


Lady of the Butterflies is a sweeping and highly romantic novel written in the tradition of Philippa Gregory.



One of the best historical novels I have read in ages...Fiona Mountain is a major new talent in the field of historical fiction. This is history told with integrity, with an authentic feel for the period and vividly rounded characters. All the colours and textures of the seventeenth century are eloquently and evocatively realised here, in wonderful detail, and against this backdrop is set a haunting and tragic narrative. I have come away from this book having learned much about Lady Eleanor Glanville, and butterflies, in the most entertaining way possible. I eagerly await Fiona Mountain`s next book.

Alison Weir

A fascinating story …richly and brilliantly detailed and full of love and heartbreak.

Elizabeth Buchan


My heart ached as I read this book because I knew at some point I would have to finish it. From the very first sentence I was caught by this wonderful and enchanting story, with a heroine you fall totally in love with and a world that I wish I could live in myself. It is as bewitching and wondrous as butterflies themselves and will be treasured as a read I will never forget.
Emilia Fox


Lady of the Butterflies' is an enjoyable, dramatic and intriguing tale that I found almost impossible to put down. It has a wonderful sense of period and well-observed, compelling  characters who I really cared about. Love and passion, in their many forms, are at its heart and as an actress I was particularly drawn to Eleanor  Glanvile, a strong and emotional woman  whose many joys and hardships I fully shared.

Thelma Barlow 

It is a rare talent in an author to be able to mix rigorous historical research with the narrative energies and imagination of a true novelist.  Fiona Mountain brings all of these skills to her entrancing Lady of the Butterflies.   A vivid and fascinating novel about an extraordinary woman, I was gripped from beginning to end.'

Katie Hickman, Author of "The Aviary Gate"

'Rich and brilliant...Fiona Mountain is an extraordinary talent, an impressive writer and an exceptional storyteller.'  

The Lady  


Fiona Mountain has written a powerful and sexually charged novel set in the shadow of the English Civil War. Lady of the Butterflies is a fascinating historical novel capturing the life of Eleanor Glanville, a woman of terrific scientific discipline and worldly passion.  Eleanor's life is one of personal upheaval and her story is set in the Somerset Marshlands that face social and agricultural revolution.  Mountain's novel describes Eleanor's discovery of the Glanville Fritillary, a rare butterfly that reflects Eleanor's immense strength, beauty and frailty.  It's a brilliant historical novel filled with fascinating detail and stunning imagery.  Patrick Neale, The Bookseller 


A serious and impressively researched work of exciting historical fiction that gathers momentum ...up to a thrilling finale. 

Editors' Choice, Historical Novels Review 

Well written, beautifully descriptive and completely engrossing, a must for all who enjoy historical fiction.

Choice, Book of the Month 

bottom of page