Elizabeth Montagu
and the Bluestocking Circle
         is Funded by the AHRC

Elizabeth Montagu Letters


Elizabeth Montagu (1718-1800) was famous in her lifetime as a Shakespeare critic, salon hostess and champion of womens writing. 

Christened "Queen of the Bluestockings" by Samuel Johnson, Montagu attracted the leading writers, politicians and artists of her day to her sparkling London assemblies, where she placed a new emphasis on conversation as a pleasurable and enlightened pursuit. Her guests included Joshua Reynolds, George, Lord Lyttelton, David and Eva Garrick, William Pulteney, Earl of Bath, Horace Walpole, Edmund Burke, Elizabeth Carter and Samuel Johnson, and later Anna Laetitia Barbauld, Hannah More and Fanny Burney.

In her richly decorated London homes, Montagu aimed to bring together sensual and intellectual pleasure, and to allow talents of many kinds to flourish. Her salon became sought out as a shrine that was supposedly free from the party politics that dominated court culture. Here Montagu nurtured a rising generation of metropolitan intellectuals, writers and artists. She was a public figure within eighteenth-century culture, whose achievements not only illuminate the history of several important aspects (and locations) of her age but also bring together a number of connected lives. She placed herself at the heart of several important networks of the age, with the ability to bestow favour in a regal manner.

As she wrote in a letter to her fellow bluestocking hostess Mrs Vesey in 1781, We have lived with the wisest, the best, and the most celebrated men of our Times, and with some of the best, most accomplished, most learned Women of any times. (MO 6566, Sep 21, 1781, Elizabeth Montagu to Elizabeth Vesey, Huntington Library).

Link to Caroline Franklin's Special Issue of Women's Writing - The Material Culture of Eighteenth Century Women's Writing, available on the 'Useful Links' page.  

LATEST PUBLICATION! - The Letters of Sarah Scott

Editor: Nicole Pohl, Oxford Brookes University The Pickering Masters 2 Volume Set c.800pp: December 2013 978 1 84893 468 9: 234x156mm: £195/$350

Sarah Robinson Scott (1721–1795) was a writer, translator and social reformer, and younger sister of Elizabeth Robinson Montagu (1718–1800), the famous Bluestocking patron. The letters Scott wrote to her sister reveal her to have been a witty, even savage, commentator on eighteenth-century life. Scott turns her observant eye on family and friends, fashionable Bath society, potential suitors, the vagaries of the postal service, modes of dress, events and political scandal. 

While Scott’s letters provide us with a window on to her own experiences and expectations, they must also be interpreted within eighteenth-century context. Letters were often shared around and read by people other than the addressee. In this sense, they are semi-public documents and artefacts of cultural history, reflecting both the public and the private realm. Scott instructed her executor, Mary Arnold, to destroy her private papers after her death, but many of her letters remain. This is the first edition of Scott’s letters to be published and presents all extant copies. All letters are newly transcribed and edited, and the edition is published in collaboration with the Huntington Library, where the letters are held. It will be of value to those researching all aspects of eighteenth-century literature and culture. 

• Includes almost 400 letters, most of which were to Scott’s sister, Elizabeth Robinson Montagu 
• Designated an MLA Approved Edition 
• Editorial apparatus includes a general introduction, four section introductions and explanatory notes 
• A consolidated index appears in the second volume 

For further details and sample pages, see: www.pickeringchatto.com/scott 







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Bluestocking Circle

The Bluestocking Circle was a group of writers, artists and thinkers who met in the London homes of Elizabeth Montagu, Elizabeth Vesey and Frances Boscawen. These fashionable hostesses invented a new kind of informal sociability and nurtured a sense of intellectual community. The term "bluestocking" evolved from the scholar Benjamin Stillingfleet's decision to abandon formal evening dress and obey Vesey's call to "Come in your blue stockings." Guests included the leading literary, political and cultural figures of the day, including Elizabeth Carter, Samuel Johnson, Edmund Burke, David and Eva Garrick and later Hannah More and Frances Burney.

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