Bluestocking Conversation Pieces
‘Bluestocking Conversation Pieces’
Elizabeth Montagu (1718–1800), ‘Queen of the Bluestockings’, was famous for cultivating metropolitan conversation, first at her home in Hill Street and later at her grand mansion in Portman Square. Nathaniel Wraxall described Montagu’s house as a London landmark:
At the time of which I speak, the ‘Gen de Lettres’, or ‘Blue Stockings’, as they were commonly denominated, formed a very numerous, powerful, compact Phalanx, in the midst of London. […] Mrs Montagu was then the Madame du Deffand of the English Capital; and her house constituted the central point of union, for all those persons who were known, or who emulated to become known, by their talents and productions.
(Sir N. William Wraxall, Historical Memoirs of My Own Time, 2 vols (London, 1815), I, pp. 136–8)
About the speaker
Elizabeth Eger is Reader Emerita at King’s College London. She is author of Bluestockings: Women of Reason from Enlightenment to Romanticism (Palgrave, 2010), and co-author, with Lucy Peltz, of Brilliant Women: 18th century Bluestockings, written to accompany the exhibition of the same title at the NPG in 2009. She is currently completing a biography of Elizabeth Montagu.
Hannah More, The Bas Bleu; or Conversation, addressed to Mrs Vesey (London, 1786)
Jonathan Swift, Hints towards an Essay on Conversation (1762)
Moyra Haslett, Moyra, ‘Becoming Bluestockings: Contextualising Hannah More’s The Bas Bleu’, Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, Vol. 33, No 1, 03.2010, pp. 89–114.
Jon Mee Conversable Worlds: Literature, Contention, and Community 1762–1830 (Oxford University Press, 2011).