The goal of this research project is to prepare a fully annotated electronic edition of Elizabeth Montagu's correspondence. The author and bluestocking salonnière (1718-1800) was the leading woman of letters and artistic patron of her day. The 8,000 extant letters, 'among the most important surviving collections from the eighteenth century' (Schnorrenberg) is held in the British Library, the Bodleian and the Huntington Library, the latter of which holds 6,000 of them. Less than a quarter of these documents has been previously published and then in partial archaic print selections.
The AHRC is funding a pilot study over twenty-four months. The research team, led by Professor Caroline Franklin, will list the correspondence and devise the editorial principles by each taking a different correspondent as a case study. The problems and possibilities thrown up by their work will be explored in a series of colloquia to which they will invite other experienced editors of eighteenth-century texts and experts from other disciplines. Additional places will be offered to research students.
A project website has been set up and the network will be able to access podcasts of the previous colloquia and download research papers.
Focused discussion between the editorial team and particular specialists on the recipients of the correspondence and experts from libraries, museums and galleries will elucidate the context of epistolary dialogues relative to art and architecture, industry, literature, philosophy, theatre, economics and politics.
Montagu corresponded extensively with leaders of British Enlightenment coteries, such as Edmund Burke, Gilbert West, David Garrick and Horace Walpole, as well as the Bluestocking inner circle - Elizabeth Carter, Sarah Scott, Hannah More, Hester Thrale Piozzi, Frances Burney, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, Elizabeth Vesey, and Frances Boscawen. Experienced managers of large-scale editorial projects and technical experts in electronic publishing will be invited to participate in workshop discussions. Issues to be explored will also include theoretical and technical considerations bearing on editorial practice, and the presentation and maintenance of an electronic publication of this magnitude.