Episode 184: Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Part Two

Posted 18 September 2021 by

by Jean-Étienne Liotard 1756

We left Lady mary rolling her eyes as people found reason after reason to not immunize against smallpox. While she cared about people not contracting a deadly disease, what Mary really want to be was a writer. Those letters she wrote from the road? She edited them into a book that was the first to capture a woman’s perspective of the Ottoman Empire. It would not be published in her lifetime, she had other things to do…like garden, socialize, write more biting commentaries on political and court life, raise two kids, ditch her husband and run off with a n’er do well Count to Italy, tour Europe, then entwine her life with another unscrupulous noble.

It’s in a painting, it must be true, right? By William Powell Frith (long after Mary’s death.)

After over 20 years of living adventure abroad, Lady Mary’s sister, Lady Mar, and her own husband died… she realized that it was time to go home. She was able to reconnect with her daughter and see old friends but within the year Mary died on August 21, 1762, at 73, in London.

Her Letters From the Embassy was published without permission right after her death…it is still in print today.

 

TIME TRAVEL WITH THE HISTORY CHICKS

 

Books!

Deeeep dive by Isobel Grundy

 

Quicker read, most recent, and most noted written by Jo Willett

 

Diving board for other two bios by Robert Halsband

 

Illustrated Turkish Letters introduction by Devla Murphy

 

Easy to access Embassy Letters can be found on Project Gutenberg and Librivox.

History of vaccines and their controversy by Stuart Blume

 

Web!

 

Grandmama’s West Dean house that Mary thought was as modern as King Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable.

Podcast on the history of vaccines, In Our Time, “Immunisation” from April of 2006, and this episode of Endless Thread on smallpox.

Timeline of vaccines from History of Vaccines.org, an article from The Lancet about Mary bringing vaccines to the West, and two about our ol’ pal Edward Jenner,  from the National Library of Medicine about our old pal

and another from Hudson Review.

On the other side of the Atlantic: Learn more about Cotton Mather and Onesimus bringing inoculating against smallpox to the American Colonies. 

Thomas Jefferson’s contribution, and then when and Benjamin Franklin contributed to irradicating the disease.

On the other end of the classy spectrum: Puppet History did an episode on the history of smallpox. THIS LINK RIGHT HERE is not for kids. At all.

Martin Luther’s quote about the bubonic plague is widely quoted but misrepresented through omissions. Give a read-through here on Snopes. 

Here’s a lovely bottle of vitriol on display at the Smithsonian.

The history of floriography, the language of flowers from ATLAS OBSCURA…heck, yeah, Mary started that in the west, too!

Moving Pictures!

There aren’t any movies about Lady Mary (what?!) but if you’re a screenwriter, we politely point you to the 20 years of her life with the two younger scoundrels and her solo adventures through Europe. The high drama (with a touch of comedy) ends in a dramatic and poetic fashion with her death shortly after returning “home.” It’s an epic story of acceptance, curiosity, survival, and feminism playing out in stunningly picturesque 1700’s Europe. You’re welcome.

 

Don’t miss taking a gander at our Pinterest board for Lady Mary or any other of our subjects!