Negotiating Interests: Elizabeth Montagu's Political Collaborations with Edward Montagu; George, Lord Lyttelton; and William Pulteney, Lord Bath
Description: This dissertation examines Elizabeth Robinson Montagu's relationships with three men: her husband, Edward Montagu; George Lyttelton, first baron Lyttelton; and William Pulteney, earl of Bath to show how these relationships were structured and how Elizabeth Montagu negotiated them in order to forward her own intellectual interests. Montagu's relationship with her husband Edward and her friendships with Lord Lyttelton and Lord Bath supplied her with important outlets for intellectual and political expression. Scholarly work on Montagu's friendships with other intellectual women has demonstrated how Montagu drew on the support of female friends in her literary ambitions, but at the same time, it has obscured her equally important male relationships. Without discounting the importance of female friendship to Montagu's intellectual life, this study demonstrates that Montagu's relationships with Bath, Lyttleton, and her husband were at least as important to her as those with women, and that her male friendships and relationships offered her entry into the political sphere. Elizabeth Montagu was greatly interested in the political debates of her day and she contributed to the political process in the various ways open to her as an elite woman and female intellectual. Within the context of these male friendships, Montagu had an opportunity to discuss political philosophy as well as practical politics; as a result, she developed her own political positions. It is clear that contemporary gender conventions limited the boundaries of Montagu's intellectual and political concerns and that she felt the need to position her interests and activities in ways that did not appear transgressive in order to follow her own inclinations. Montagu represented her interest in the political realm as an extension of family duty and expression of female tenderness. In this manner, Montagu was able to forward her own opinions without appearing to cross conventional gender boundaries.
Date: December 2009
Creator: Bennett, Elizabeth Stearns