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The Bluestockings

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the Bluestockings, a group of prominent women intellectuals in 18th-century England.

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.


Karen O'Brien
Vice-Principal and Professor of English at King's College London

Elizabeth Eger
Reader in English Literature at King's College London

Nicole Pohl
Reader in English Literature at Oxford Brookes University

Producer: Thomas Morris.

Available now

47 minutes

Last on

Thu 5 Jun 2014 21:30


Karen O'Brien at King's College London


Elizabeth Eger at King's College London


Nicole Pohl at Oxford Brookes University


Bluestocking circle - Oxford Dictionary of National Biography


Blue Stockings Society - Wikipedia





Rosemary Baird, Mistress of the House: Great Ladies and Grand Houses 1670-1830 (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2003)


Norma Clarke, The Rise and Fall of the Woman of Letters (Pimlico, 2004)


Norma Clarke, Dr Johnson’s Women (Pimlico, 2005)


E. J. Clery, The Feminization Debate in Eighteenth-Century England: Literature, Commerce and Luxury (Palgrave Schol, 2004)


Elizabeth Eger (ed.), Bluestockings Displayed: Portraiture, Performance and Patronage, 1730-1830 (Cambridge University Press, 2013)


Elizabeth Eger, Bluestockings: Women of Reason from Enlightenment to Romanticism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010)


Elizabeth Eger and Lucy Peltz, Brilliant Women: 18th-Century Bluestockings (Yale University Press, 2008)


Harriet Guest, Small Change: Women, Learning, Patriotism, 1750-1810 (University of Chicago Press, 2000)


Sylvia Harcstark Myers, The Bluestocking Circle: Women, Friendship, and the Life of the Mind in Eighteenth-Century England (Clarendon Press, 1990)


Vivien Jones (ed.), Women in the Eighteenth Century: Constructions of Femininity (Routledge, 1990)


Gary Kelly (ed.), Bluestocking Feminism: Writings of the Bluestocking Circle, 1738-1785 – 6 volumes (Pickering & Chatto, 1999)


Karen O’Brien, Women and Enlightenment in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Cambridge University Press, 2009)


Nicole Pohl, The Collected Letters of Sarah Robinson Scott (Pickering & Chatto/Huntington Library Press, 2013)


Nicole Pohl and Betty Schellenberg (eds.), Reconsidering the Bluestockings (University of California Press, 2003)


Susan Staves, A Literary History of Women’s Writing in Britain, 1660-1789 (Cambridge University Press, 2010)



Role Contributor
Presenter Melvyn Bragg
Interviewed Guest Karen O'Brien
Interviewed Guest Elizabeth Eger
Interviewed Guest Nicole Pohl
Producer Thomas Morris


  • Thu 5 Jun 2014 09:00
  • Thu 5 Jun 2014 21:30

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