"The Nine Living Muses of Great Britain,"
by Richard Samuel, 1779.
(Left to right) Elizbaeth Carter, Anna Letitia
Barbauld, Angelika Kauffmann, Elizabeth Linley, Catharine
Macaulay, Elizabeth Montagu, Elizabeth Griffith, Hannah More,
and Charlotte Lennox.
This painting was commissioned to honor the contributions
of women, particularly the ones portrayed, to English society
and learning. All the subjects are painted with their particular
forte in mind. For example, Angelika Kauffmann was a respected
female artist and in this painting she is seated before an
The expressions on the faces of the women suggest intelligent
contemplation/questioning - something the bluestockings were
The setting for this painting is the Temple of Apollo and
the women are all in the character of the Nine Muses from
ancient Greece. The roman dress of the women is meant to convey
the intellect of Rome. Italy was a popular destination for
travelers because of its history. The English people viewed
Rome as ancient high-culture and as something to be emulated.
Mrs. Carter was taught Greek, Latin and Hebrew by her
father, the Rev DR Nicholas Carter. She befriended Samuel
Johnson and contributed to his periodical The Rambler.
She was the author of Poems for Peculiar Occasions
(1738), An Ode to Wisdom (1761) and in 1758 translated
the complete works of Epictetus. She was lose friends
with other bluestocking women, including Catherine Talbot
and Elizabeth Montagu. She never married and was famed
for taking snuff to stay awake during long hours of
|Anna Laetitia Barbauld
Miss. Aikin was educated by her father John Aikin,
a Presbyterian minister and schoolteacher. She befriended
Joseph Priestly and his wife in her teen years and the
couple, along with her brother John Aikin encouraged
her to write. In 1771 six of her poems were published
in John's book, Essays on Song Writing. In 1773
she published a collection of her own poems and a year
later married Rochemont Barbauld. The Barbaulds established
a boarding school and educated youths. In the !790s
Anna began publishing political writings. She was pro-abolition
and pro-religious freedom and as a result received much
criticism. Perhaps her most famous political piece is
Sins of the Government, Sins of the Nation published
in 1793 against the war with France. Alas Anna did not
experience a pleasant retired life - after many wonderful
years with her husband Rochemont deteriorated mentally
and became deranged. She was forced to separate from
him to protect her self and a few years later he died.
Angelika began studying art in Italy as a child and
in 1766 her friend J. Reynolds brought her to London.
There she became known for her decorative work with
such architects as R. Adam. Her pastoral compositions
incorporate delicate and graceful depiction of gods
and goddesses; though her paintings are Rococo in tone
and approach, her figures are Neoclassical. Her portraits
of female sitters are among her finest works. After
marrying the painter Antonio Zucchi (1726-1795), she
returned to Italy in 1781. Kauffmann was one of the
founding members of the Royal Academy in London.
|Elizabeth Linley Sheridan
Renown for her beauty and musical abilities, she was
a celebrated soprano.
Catherine, like man of her bluestocking contemporaries,
was educated by her father. At the tender age of two
her mother passed away. Macaulay became a writer and
historian. Her first work was The History of England:
from the Accession of James the First to that of the
Brunswick Line and was eight volumes in length.
It was published over a period of twenty years (1763-83).
She received criticism because of her colonial sympathies
and her anti-monarchial stance. She wrote Loose Remarks
in 1767 as a response to Hobbes. Later she wrote Letters
on Education which demanded equal education of the
sexes. Interestingly enough Macaulay met and corresponded
with George Washington.
Elizabeth "was the daughter of Thomas Robinson
and Elizabeth Duke. She was educated at home, first
by her father but later by DR Congers Middleton. In
1742 she married a man nearly thirty years her senior,
Edward Montagu of Allerthorp, the fifth son of the first
Earl of Sandwich. Their only son died in infancy. On
the death of her husband in 1774 she inherited a vast
estate, including a property in Sandleford, Berkshire,
which she had rebuilt in the Gothic style on the advice
of her friend Horace Walpole, and she also had built
Montagu House in Portman Square in London. She was known
as the Queen of the Bluestockings. Her most significant
work was the Essay of the Writings and Genius of
Shakespear (1769), but she also contributed to Lord
George Lyttleton's Dialogues of the Dead (1760)."
Mrs. Griffith was a well known actress and playwright.
She was born in Ireland to an Actor father (Thomas Griffith).
Her father owned the Smock Alley Theater were Elizabeth
made her debut in 1749 at Juliet in Romeo and Juliet.
She appeared in numerous productions at that theater
and those in London. She married Richard Griffith in
1751 and had one child.
Hannah More "was the fourth daughter of Jacob
More and Mary Grace, she was educated by her father,
a headmaster, in order that she and her four sisters
could support themselves by founding a day school. IN
1786 she wrote the poem "Bas Bleu: Or, Conversation,"
in celebration of the salon society headed by Elizabeth
Montagu. She later befriended members of the evangelical
Clapham Sect, including the philanthropist William Wilberforce,
who persuaded her to join the antislavery movement.
Her works range from plays (such as The Search After
Happiness, 1773), to political tracts (Village Politics,
1792, in which she criticized Thomas Pain) - to religious
works (Practical Piety, 1818). In Strictures on the
Modern System of Female Education (1799), she advocated
full education for both sexes" (Dolan)
A controversial literary figure. Lennox wrote her most
famous poem, 'The Art of Coquetry' in 1750 which
was published in Gentlemen's Quarterly. Elizabeth Carter
did not appreciate Lennox's poem which talked women's
manipulation over men and the world through love and
feminine ways. Perhaps her greatest contribution to
the literary world however was the satire The Female
Quixote 1752 in which her female heroine gains all
her knowledge through the romance novels of the time.