Brilliant Women


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18th-Century Bluestockings

Elizabeth Eger and Lucy Peltz

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Price: $70.00
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During the 18th century a remarkable group of women formed the Bluestocking Salon, where women and men met to debate contemporary ideas and promote the life of the mind. Together, these cultural innovators helped forge new roles for women as influential thinkers, writers, and artists, and their creative achievements were publicly celebrated.


Richly illustrated with portraits, prints, and personal artifacts, Brilliant Women tells the story of this fascinating group of women. The authors chart the changing fortunes of the female intellectual and explore how a number of bluestocking women, such as artist Angelica Kauffmann, historian Catharine Macaulay, and early feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, used portraiture to advance their work and their reputations in a period framed by the Enlightenment and the French Revolution.


Brilliant Women pays tribute to the friendships and achievements of these bluestocking women, presenting new information on the range of cultural activities in which they were engaged, as well as celebrating their legacy.

Exhibition Schedule:

National Portrait Gallery, London (March 13 - June 15, 2008)

Elizabeth Eger teaches English literature at King’s College London. Lucy Peltz is 18th Century Curator at the National Portrait Gallery, London.


National Portrait Gallery, London (March 13 - June 15, 2008)

"Brilliant Women, a gorgeously illustrated book, focuses on the group of friends who met in London beginning in the 1750s: the Bluestocking Circle. . . . Its members met for smart and stylish conversation on literary and philosophic matters while drinking tea, coffee or lemonade. . . . The Bluestockings cared more for intellectual merit, charm and congeniality than politics. The two authors try to be fair to the Bluestocking women who do not match our current feminist ideals. . . . [The authors] essays are worthy productions, but the prose is trumped by the illustrations. . . . It is a real pleasure to look upon the faces of these quirky, wry and concentrated women."—Alexandra Mullin, Wall Street Journal

"Richly illustrated."—Elizabeth Powers, The Weekly Standard

"Richly illustrated. . . . Restores the tradition of learning in the lives of certain 18th-century women."—Elizabeth Powers, The Eighteenth-Century Intelligencer

"The generous conception and abundance of detail in Brilliant Women are, well, brilliant. . . . The book's great contribution . . . is to bring together in portraits and other media the "brilliant women" who were publicly recognized for their idiosyncratic intellectual pursuits and achievements rather than or in addition to their traditional female accomplishments."—Gina Luria Walker, Journal of Modern History 

"Brilliant Women is a beautifully produced, intelligent, and well-written introduction to the bluestockings and their place in history."—Wendy Wassyng Roworth, College Art Association
ISBN: 9780300141030
Publication Date: December 1, 2008
Publishing Partner: National Portrait Gallery, London
160 pages, 7 1/2 x 10
64 b/w + 84 color illus.

Sales Restrictions: For sale in U.S. and Canada only