Mary Wortley Montagu

Montagu, Lady Mary Wortley

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, 1689–1762, English author, noted primarily for her highly descriptive letters. She was the daughter of the first duke of Kingston. In 1712 she married Edward Wortley Montagu, who became ambassador to Turkey in 1716. On her return to England in 1718 she worked to educate the public in the use of inoculation against smallpox. In 1739 she left her husband and went to live on the Continent. Her Town Eclogues (1747), which gives an entertaining picture of contemporary manners, was first published by Edmund Curll in a pirated edition in 1716. She is remembered for her quarrel with Pope, who had once been her ardent admirer and who attacked her viciously in his poetry. Horace Walpole disliked her also and depicted her as a greedy, heartless eccentric. However, recent studies have defended her as a brilliant woman struggling for emancipation. Her letters were first published in 1763.

See the complete letters (1965–67) and selections (1970), both ed. by R. Halsband, also biography by R. Halsband (1956).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Eighteenth-Century Women and the Arts
Frederick M. Keener; Susan E. Lorsch.
Greenwood Press, 1988
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 17 "An English 'Feminist' in the Turkish Harem: A Portrait of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu"
FREE! Letters from the Levant: During the Embassy to Constantinople, 1716-18
Mary Wortley Montagu.
J. Rickerby, 1838
FREE! Letters from the Right Honourable Lady Mary Wortley Montagu 1709 to 1762
Ernest Rhys; R. Brimley Johnson; Mary Wortley Montagu.
J. M. Dent & Co, 1906
Essays and Poems and Simplicity, a Comedy
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu; Robert Halsband; Isobel Grundy.
Clarendon Press, 1993
The Aesthetics of Intimacy: Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and Her Readers
Gardner, Kevin J.
Papers on Language & Literature, Vol. 34, No. 2, Spring 1998
"Roving Englishwomen": Greece in Women's Travel Writing
Mitsi, Efterpi.
Mosaic (Winnipeg), Vol. 35, No. 2, June 2002
FREE! The Learned Lady in England, 1650-1760
Myra Reynolds.
Houghton Mifflin, 1920
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu begins on p. 193
Eighteenth-Century Women Poets: An Oxford Anthology
Roger Lonsdale.
Oxford University Press, 1989
Librarian’s tip: Biographical sketch of Mary Wortley Montagu begins on p. 54, and poems by Mary Wortley Montagu begin on p. 56
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