bluestocking, derisive term originally applied to certain 18th-century women with pronounced literary interests. During the 1750s, Elizabeth Vesey held evening parties, at which the entertainment consisted of conversation on literary subjects. Eminent men of the day were invited to contribute to these conversations. Hannah More, Elizabeth Montagu, and Elizabeth Carter, among others, continued this tradition. Boswell, in his Life of Dr. Johnson, states that these "bluestocking clubs" were so named because of Benjamin Stillingfleet, who attended in unconventional blue worsted stockings rather than the customary black silk stockings. In time the name bluestocking was applied solely to women of pedantic literary tastes.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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