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The "Bluestockings" were a group of literary ladies and gentlemen of 18th-century London whose most famous members were Mrs. Elizabeth (Robinson) Montagu (1720-1800); Miss Elizabeth Carter (1717-1806); Mrs. Boscawen (1719-1805); Mrs. Chapone (1727-1801); and Mrs. Vesey (1715-91). "The origin of the term is to be found [in that] many of those who attended eschewed 'full dress,' among them Benjamin Stillingfleet, who habitually wore blue worsted, in lieu of black silk, stockings. In reference to this, Admiral Boscawen is said to have dubbed the coterie the 'Blue Stocking Society.'" (Oxford Companion to English Literature).
In about the early 1960's, the Library made an effort under the guidance of Professor Charles Ryskamp, then Bibliographer for English and American Literature, to collect the works of these ladies. This foundation collection is still being added to. All books in this collection are part of the General Rare Books Collection (Ex).