ONLINE EMCO TALK TONIGHT: ‘Writing the World: 18th-Century Women in Global London’, British Library

Writing the World: 18th-Century Women in Global London


“I never invite idiots to my house” (Elizabeth Montagu, circa 1770)

This is a live online event. Bookers will be sent a link in advance giving access.


“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” – Elizabeth Montagu, 1781.

Montagu, the Shakespeare critic, hostess and champion of women writers, was known as the “queen of the Bluestockings”. Her lavish homes were the scene of renowned salons bringing together the leading cultural lights of the era, and the writers she nurtured became a powerful network famed for its pursuit of intellectual and sensual pleasure.

But who were these women, and how did they wield their influence? This session explores their legacy, placing the Bluestockings at the very heart of their times, and features the newly-launched digital edition of the correspondence of Elizabeth Montagu.

This session, delivered in partnership with Elizabeth Montagu Correspondence Online, explores the Bluestockings and their extraordinary legacy, featuring the newly-launched digital edition of the correspondence of Elizabeth Montagu. This event is a foretaste of our exhibtion and events season Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women’s Rights, opening Autumn 2020.


Joanna Barker is a Fellow of the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies at Durham University. She is the author of a recent translation of three 18th-century Spanish feminist tracts, collected in In Defence of Women. She is a founder and trustee of Elizabeth Montagu Correspondence Online (EMCO), which is preparing a freely-available digital edition that will include the entire surviving collection of thousands of Elizabeth Montagu’s letters.

Dr Yuthika Sharma of Edinburgh University works on the art and intellectual history of South Asia in the early modern and colonial period. Her research has been supported by the Leverhulme Trust, the AHRC and the Paul Mellon Centre for British Art. Yuthika previously worked in the Asia Department of the British Museum and was involved in the East India Company at Home project.

Emma Clery is Professor of English Literature at Uppsala University. Her book The Feminization Debate in 18th Century England explores the significance of the Bluestockings in discussions of national progress. The award of a Leverhulme Trust Major Fellowship led to Eighteen Hundred and Eleven: Poetry, Protest and Economic Crisis, about Anna Letitia Barbauld, and Jane Austen: The Banker’s Sister.

Elizabeth Eger is a writer and cultural historian, and Reader Emerita at King’s College London. She is currently completing a biography of Elizabeth Montagu. She co-curated the National Portrait Gallery’s exhibition Brilliant Women: 18th Century Bluestockings, and co-wrote the accompanying book, with Lucy Peltz. She is a founding Trustee of EMCO.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *