Friday, April 18, 2008
All Hail the Queen of the Bluestockings
Meet Anne Macvicar Grant. Well, technically you can't meet her because she's been dead for about 200 years, but I'll do my best to introduce you to her. (As you're all probably sick of hearing) I write about women's letters, and I'm about to start writing my 3rd chapter, which is about women who wrote letters about the natural world -- that is, plants, stars, comets, animals, and unidentifiable phenomena. Anne Macvicar Grant is the newest addition to my project, and she's a fascinating woman.
She was born in Glasgow, Scotland so technically has no place in an American studies project except that she moved to America (specifically, to Albany, New York) with her father, who was a representative to the British military, in 1758 and she took to the place immediately.
She lived here from age 3 to 13 and received such an education and had such an appetite for reading that she was known as Queen of the Bluestockings. Bluestocking women were the educated elite, often ridiculed for what they knew and how they challenged typical misogynist thought in the 18th century.
During the American Revolution, she and her family had to leave the US despite owning much land in Vermont because they were loyalists to the British throne; her return to the Highlands in Scotland provided fodder for a widely-circulated book that she later wrote called Letters from the Mountains which blends the genres of travel narrative, autobiography, naturalist musings, and epistolarity (letter-writing). Interestingly enough (at least, to me), she also published a memoir that she called Memoirs of an American Lady, indicating that she identified, not with the place of her birth, but the place of her adolescence. Adding her to my project will certainly call into question the confines of what it meant to be a (British-Scottish-Loyalist) American in the late 18th century. Consider yourself, as I do, only nominally introduced.
Posted by Paro at 9:34 AM