Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

(baptized 26 May 1689 - 21 August 1762)
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689-1762)

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689-1762)

Works in ECPA

Source editions

  • A Collection of Poems in Six Volumes. By Several Hands. Vol. I. London: printed by J. Hughs, for R. and J. Dodsley, 1763 [1st ed. 1758]. 6v.: music; 8⁰. (ESTC T131163)
  • A Collection of Poems in Six Volumes. By Several Hands. Vol. IV. London: printed by J. Hughs, for R. and J. Dodsley, 1763 [1st ed. 1758]. 6v.: music; 8⁰. (ESTC T131163)

Biographical note

Born Mary Pierrepont, eldest child of Evelyn Pierrepont, Earl (and later 1st Duke) of Kingston (1667-1726), and his wife Lady Mary, née Fielding (c. 1669-1692), Lady Mary Wortley Montagu was privately educated and began writing poetry at an early age. In 1712 she eloped with and secretly married Edward Wortley Montagu (1678-1761), MP, whose friendship with Addison introduced her to the author's circle. She also met and became friendly with Alexander Pope and John Gay. In 1716 she moved to Turkey with her husband who had been appointed ambassador to Constantinople. She took a keen interest in Islamic culture, evident from her correspondence, and even translated some Turkish verse. Herself a victim of small-pox, she became, on her return to London, a campaigner for the practice of inoculation, which she observed in Turkey. Montagu continued writing verse, some of which appeared in magazines, but the majority of which remained unpublished. Her political alliance with the Whigs led to poetical feuds with both Pope and Swift, although Pope may have been bitter with her rejection of any amorous suggestions. Her acquaintance with Francesco Algarotti (1712-1764) in 1736 led her to leave her husband for the Continent three years later, where she would remain for the rest of her life, living in Italy and France. She met , on his Grand Tour with Thomas Gray, who was responsible for the publication of some of her poems in 1747 and possibly in Dodsley's Collection (1748). She returned to England, following the death of her husband in 1761, but already suffering from breast cancer, she died six months after her arrival on 21 August 1762, aged 73. Her letters from Turkey were published posthumously in 1763 and were frequently reprinted. Her poems were edited by Isaac Reed in 1768, and her collected Works by James Dallaway in 1803. Her great-grandson Lord Wharncliffe edited her Letters and Works in 1837.

Bibliography

DMI 1930; ODNB 19029; NCBEL 1584

Manuscripts

  • Smith, Margaret M. Index of English Literary Manuscripts. Vol. III, 1700-1800 . London: Mansell, 1986-1997. Pt. 2 Gay-Philips. 187-233. Print. 4 volumes.

Editions

  • Grundy, Isobel and Robert Halsband, eds. Essays and Poems and Simplicity, a comedy. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977 (rptd 2001). Print.

Biography

  • Grundy, Isobel. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu: Comet of the Enlightenment. Oxford; New York: Oxford UP, 1999. Print.

Reference

  • Anscomb, Lisa. Montagu, Mary Wortley, Lady, 1689-1762. Literature Online biography. Cambridge: Chadwyck-Healey, 2000. Web. 21 Feb. 2016. http://gateway.proquest.com/openurl?ctx_ver=Z39.88-2003&xri:pqil:res_ver=0.2&res_id=xri:lion&rft_id=xri:lion:ft:ref:BIO001489:0
  • Baines, Paul, Julian Ferraro, Pat Rogers, eds. The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Eighteenth-Century Writers and Writing, 1660-1789. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011. 240-241. Print.
  • Fairer, David. English Poetry of the Eighteenth Century 1700-1789. Longman Literature in English Series. Harlow: Longman, 2003. 278-279. Print.
  • Radcliffe, David H., ed. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689-1762). Spenser and the Tradition: ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830. Center for Applied Technologies in the Humanities, Virginia Tech, 2006. Web. 21 Oct. 2011. http://spenserians.cath.vt.edu/AuthorRecord.php?recordid=1181.
  • Suarez, Michael F. Montagu, Lady Mary Wortley. A Collection of Poems by Several Hands [1782]. Ed. Robert Dodsley and Michael F. Suarez. Vol. I. London: Routledge/Thoemmes, 1997. 184-186. Print. 6 volumes.