Lady Mary Wortley Montagu 1689–1762
Lady Mary Pierrepont, a cousin of Henry Fielding, defied her father, the Earl of Kingston, to marry for love the politician and businessman Edward Wortley Montagu. (She later lived over twenty years apart from him on the Continent.) A learned, independent and witty woman, she moved in fashionable social and literary circles, having some reputation from her Court Poems (1716). An early friendship with Pope turned to bitter attacks on both sides (see his references to ‘Sappho’ in Epistle to Arbuthnot and To a Lady). She is now best remembered for her letters, which reveal a worldly, open-minded intelligence. Her husband was ambassador to Turkey 1716–18, which with her later travels provided a rich vein of material. (The French painter Ingres was influenced by the descriptions in several of her Turkish letters.) Her daughter married the future Prime Minister, Lord Bute.
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