Author of the Xanthakos Family Trilogy -
The Chamomile, Laurel, and Cassia
The Bluestockings Society, also known as the Bluestockings Circle, an early example of feminism, was a women’s social and educational movement founded in England in 1750. The founders wanted to provide an informal setting where women could expand their knowledge by conversing freely with other women and men of learning.
The society’s discussions about education, literature, and art constituted a revolutionary change from traditional, non-intellectual pursuits for women who were expected to master “more feminine” skills of needlework, knitting, and music, while only men attended universities.
It was considered “unbecoming” for a woman to know Greek or Latin and almost immodest for women to be authors, which explains why female authors of that time wrote under pseudonyms.
Led by Elizabeth Montagu and Elizabeth Vesey, the society included prominent women of English society, though some males were invited to join the group.There are disputes about the society’s origins and name. Some say the name came about from Benjamin Stillingfleet, a popular guest who had given up society and didn’t have clothes suitable for an evening party, which included black stockings, and so he wore more informal daytime wear of blue worsted stockings to the meetings.
Contemporary author Anna Miegon wrote about bluestockings in her Biographical Sketches of Principal Bluestocking Women.
Much of society scorned and ridiculed the “unfeminine” pursuits. Thomas Rawlandson published this satirical drawing of the group in 1815.
There’s a scene in my recently released 1790s historical fiction, Cassia, where Lilyan Xanthakos explains slavery to her daughter Laurel. Impressed with her mother’s knowledge, Laurel asks her how she came to know so much.
“I’m glad you think so, my dear.” Lilyan crossed one ankle over the other and knit her fingers together on her lap. “But to answer your question, my father encouraged me to read. And I’ve done so all my life.”
“You weren’t fearful of being dubbed a bluestocking?”
The Xanthakos Family Trilogy