Bluestockings: Women of Reason from Enlightenment to - download pdf or read online

By Elizabeth Eger (auth.)

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She was a close friend of both Samuel Johnson and David Garrick. After Garrick’s death however, she retired from the London literary scene, partly in protest at its fashionable superficialities. She later achieved a huge readership amongst the educated with her Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education (1799) and 20 Bluestockings amongst the poor with her Cheap Repository Tracts – orthodox political and religious propaganda. Her teachings were morally restrictive and politically reactionary, confronting the arguments of radicals and feminists alike.

7 As Barry’s reflections on Minerva and the muses suggest, women were present in the minds of writers and artists as more than abstract figures or passive consumers – many felt the need to represent real heroines who might provide models of behaviour for contemporary women (and perhaps even men). 8 Recent research into the exhibition catalogues of the Royal Academy has revealed that many women artists exhibited regularly,9 their work including history painting as well as portraits and depictions of flowers.

Their relationship in letters forms an ‘epistolary philosophy’ which must be viewed in connection with the wider sphere of women’s writing in the period. Finally, I compare Montagu’s central social role in bringing women writers together with the message conveyed by her sister Sarah Scott’s Millenium Hall [sic], a novel which creates a utopian vision of a female community seen through the eyes of a male dandy. Scott’s novel celebrates reason and virtue as the tenets of a female community that lives by bluestocking ideals.

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