A woman with unfashionably intellectual and literary interests. The term is explained in Boswell’s “Life of Dr. Johnson”, as deriving from the name given to meetings held by certain ladies in the 18th century, for conversation with distinguished literary men. A frequent attendee was a Mr. Stillingfleet, who always wore his everyday blue worsted stockings because he could not afford silk stockings. He was so much distinguished for his conversational powers that his absence at any time was felt to be a great loss, and so it was often remarked, “We can do nothing without the blue stockings.” Admiral Boscawan, husband of one of the most successful hostesses of such gatherings, derisively dubbed them ‘The Blue Stocking Society’. Although both men and women, some of them eminent literary and learned figures of the day, attended these meetings, the term ‘bluestocking’ became attached exclusively, and often contemptuously, to women. This was partly because women were instrumental in organizing the evenings, but also because they were seen as encroaching on matters thought not to be their concern.

This glossary term is categorized as General
share on:

View the Full Regency World Glossary