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By Elizabeth Eger

The dialog events of the bluestockings, held to discuss modern rules in eighteenth-century Britain, have been important in encouraging woman creative success and selling hyperlinks among studying and advantage within the public mind's eye, inventing a brand new type of casual sociability that mixed the lifetime of the senses with that of the brain. This number of essays, by means of prime students within the fields of literature, historical past and paintings heritage, presents an interdisciplinary therapy of bluestocking tradition in eighteenth-century Britain. it's the first educational quantity to pay attention to the wealthy visible and fabric tradition that surrounded and supported the bluestocking undertaking, from formal images and sculptures to commercially reproduced prints. by means of the early 20th century, the time period 'bluestocking' got here to suggest a lifeless and dowdy highbrow lady, however the unique bluestockings inhabited an international within which brilliance used to be worth each point and girls have been inspired to polish or even dazzle.

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Additional resources for Bluestockings Displayed: Portraiture, Performance and Patronage, 1730-1830

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The powerful advocate of Irish cultural independence, Sydney Owenson, Lady Morgan, is represented in front of her mirror, carefully adjusting her hat. The radical reformer and suffragette Harriet Martineau is portrayed at home playing with her cat. 27 From 1770 to 1840 then, the portrayal of the British bluestocking, the learned lady, the woman writer, changed in revealing ways. From a marginalised muse, lauded for her intellectual attainments and moral virtue only because she was a rare phenomenon in the 1770s, the bluestocking became by the late 1790s a threatening feminist, to be both ridiculed and feared by her male peers.

See, for example, the frontispiece portrait of Maria Edgeworth, engraved by R. McKenzie in 1801 after a portrait by William Marshall Craig (available to view on the British Museum’s collections website). 37 38 Portraits 25 William Pitt Scargill, Blue-Stocking Hall (London: Henry Colburn, 1827), Preface, p. iv. 26 See Leigh Hunt, Poetical Works of Leigh Hunt, ed. Thornton Hunt (London and New York: Routledge, Warne and Routledge, 1860). 27 These images may be found on the National Portrait Gallery’s collections database.

By speaking in public, by promoting a political agenda that advocated the intellectual development, economic advancement and even the political enfranchisement of women, these leading bluestockings were increasingly identified with those other women whose voices and bodies were on display for public consumption, actresses and prostitutes. Powhele’s attack was widely circulated by the anti-Jacobin press following the revolution in France, and fuelled a cultural reversion to earlier, seventeenth-century prejudices that identified any woman who appeared in the public eye with immodesty and a lack of virtue.

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