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Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689-1762)


From a miniature in the collection of Lady Anna Maria Dawson


 Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (née Pierrepont) was an aristocratic  lady of letters, a poet, essayist, a traveller and a celebrity in her time and admired for her beauty and wit. She was largely self-educated and made good use of her father's extensive library at Thorsby Hall . Her Embassy Letters (see below) are probably her best known work today other  writing by her challenged many of the prevailing attitudes to women at the time. 


She led a colourful life, eloping with Edward Wortley to escape a marriage her father had attempted to arrange for her. When her husband became an MP for Westminster they moved to London and she frequented court consorting with the King's mistress and moving in the circles of the litterati.


Life changed drastically for her when she contracted smallpox. She survived, but was badly scarred by the disease. During her illness someone had leaked her satirical writings on the court and one piece was interpreted as an attack on Princess Caroline.  To escape her disgrace she accompanied her husband to Turkey when he took up a post as ambassador.  During her travels and stay in Turkey she wrote a series of long descriptive letters home. In Turkey she came across the practice of inoculation which she later introduced to Britain. This was the first time in Western medicine that antibodies were created to secure immunity from disease.



Mary Wortley Montagu, Countess of Bute - Framed Antique Print

SKU: 1058
  • Image Number: 1058
    Title: Mary Wortley Montague
    Artist: Countess of Bute 
    Engraver: Joseph Brown
    Medium: Engraving (artist's proof)

    Date: 1862

    Framed size (h x w): 262 x 262mm

    A stipple engraving of a woman, feet resting on a footstool, looking down the book in her lap. Her head rests on her hand. This was originally one of pair the other subject is a man seated at a desk and is entitled 'Le moment de L'Imagination'. 

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