The Bluestockings

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the Bluestockings. Around the middle of the eighteenth century a small group of intellectual women began to meet regularly to discuss literature and other matters, inviting some of the leading thinkers of the day to take part in informal salons. In an age when women were not expected to be highly educated, the Bluestockings were sometimes regarded with suspicion or even hostility. But prominent members such as Elizabeth Montagu - known as ‘the Queen of the Bluestockings’, and author of an influential essay about Shakespeare - and the classicist Elizabeth Carter were highly regarded for their scholarship. Their accomplishments led to far greater acceptance of women as the intellectual equal of men, and furthered the cause of female education.

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  • Karen O'Brien 16 episodes
    Vice-Principal and Professor of English at King's College London
  • Elizabeth Eger No other episodes
    Reader in English Literature at King's College London
  • Nicole Pohl 2 episodes
    Reader in English Literature at Oxford Brookes University

Reading list

  • Mistress of the House: Great Ladies and Grand Houses 1670-1830
    Rosemary Baird (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2003) Google Books →
  • The Rise and Fall of the Woman of Letters
    Norma Clarke (Pimlico, 2004) Google Books →
  • Dr Johnson's Women
    Norma Clarke (Pimlico, 2005) Google Books →
  • The Feminization Debate in Eighteenth-Century England: Literature, Commerce and Luxury
    E. J. Clery (Palgrave Schol, 2004) Google Books →
  • Bluestockings Displayed: Portraiture, Performance and Patronage, 1730-1830
    Elizabeth Eger (ed.) (Cambridge University Press, 2013) Google Books →
  • Bluestockings: Women of Reason from Enlightenment to Romanticism
    Elizabeth Eger (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010) Google Books →
  • Brilliant Women: 18th-Century Bluestockings
    Elizabeth Eger and Lucy Peltz (Yale University Press, 2008) Google Books →
  • Small Change: Women, Learning, Patriotism, 1750-1810
    Harriet Guest (University of Chicago Press, 2000) Google Books →
  • The Bluestocking Circle: Women, Friendship, and the Life of the Mind in Eighteenth-Century England
    Sylvia Harcstark Myers (Clarendon Press, 1990) Google Books →
  • Women in the Eighteenth Century: Constructions of Femininity
    Vivien Jones (ed.) (Routledge, 1990) Google Books →
  • Bluestocking Feminism: Writings of the Bluestocking Circle, 1738-1785 - 6 volumes
    Gary Kelly (ed.) (Pickering & Chatto, 1999) Google Books →
  • Women and Enlightenment in Eighteenth-Century Britain
    Karen O'Brien (Cambridge University Press, 2009) Google Books →
  • The Collected Letters of Sarah Robinson Scott
    Nicole Pohl (Pickering & Chatto/Huntington Library Press, 2013)
  • Reconsidering the Bluestockings
    Nicole Pohl and Betty Schellenberg (eds.) (University of California Press, 2003) Google Books →
  • A Literary History of Women's Writing in Britain, 1660-1789
    Susan Staves (Cambridge University Press, 2010) Google Books →

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Programme ID: b045c0h9

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Auto-category: 305.42 (Women)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. In the middle of the 18th century, a group of aristocratic women formed an informal club which met regularly at their homes in London.