Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

Montagu, Lady Mary Wortley, 1689–1762, English author, noted primarily for her highly descriptive letters. She was the daughter of the first duke of Kingston. In 1712 she married Edward Wortley Montagu, who became ambassador to Turkey in 1716. On her return to England in 1718 she worked to educate the public in the use of inoculation against smallpox. In 1739 she left her husband and went to live on the Continent. Her Town Eclogues (1747), which gives an entertaining picture of contemporary manners, was first published by Edmund Curll in a pirated edition in 1716. She is remembered for her quarrel with Pope, who had once been her ardent admirer and who attacked her viciously in his poetry. Horace Walpole disliked her also and depicted her as a greedy, heartless eccentric. However, recent studies have defended her as a brilliant woman struggling for emancipation. Her letters were first published in 1763.

See the complete letters (1965–67) and selections (1970), both ed. by R. Halsband, also biography by R. Halsband (1956).

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

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