Total Pageviews

Friday, September 3, 2021

Bluestockings and Bluestocking circle or society – Literary Terms

Literary Terms Bluestockings, Bluestocking circle or society,

Bluestockings and Bluestocking circle or society  – Literary Terms

- - - - - - - - - -  


A nickname for intellectual and literary women in eighteenth-century English society, especially those who gathered for conversation with literary men instead of for the more usual cardplaying. The group that met at the home of Elizabeth Montague was called “The Blue Stocking Society" after one of its male members happened to wear blue stockings instead of black. In addition to Montague, famous bluestockings included Fanny Burney and Hannah More.

From Penguin Dictionary:

Bluestocking circle/society:

The Blue Stockings were a group of intelligent, well-educated, and gifted women who, from early in the  1750s, held receptions or soirees, in the French salon (q.v.)  tradition, at their homes in London, and continued to do so through most of the second half of the 18th c. The first hostess was almost certainly Mrs. Vesey. Other regular hostesses were Mrs. Montagu, Mrs. Carter, Mrs. Chapone, Mrs. Boscawen, Mrs. Delaney, and, later, Hannah More, who wrote an agreeable poem, Bas bleu  ( 1786), which described the pleasures and activities of the Blue  Stocking Society. Those who attended the meetings were fashionable  and literary and included a number of famous men such as Joshua  Reynolds, David Garrick, Horace Walpole, James Boswell, James  Beattie, Samuel Richardson, George Lyttleton, and Dr. Johnson. 

Members of the aristocracy were frequent attenders. The main object of the meetings was conversation; there were no cards and no alcohol, and politics, swearing, and scandal were forbidden. Their title derives from the worsted blue stockings of Bishop Benjamin  Stillingfleet. He could not afford evening clothes and attended in his ordinary everyday gear. Traditionally it was Admiral Boscawen who nicknamed the group thus. When used pejoratively, as it often has been (and was in the 18th c.), the term 'bluestocking' denotes a  woman who affects literary tastes and behaves in a dilettante fashion; a female pedant. Henry James described George Eliot as  'a horse-faced bluestocking'. 

No comments:

Post a Comment