Elite Women and Polite Society in Eighteenth-Century Scotland

Elite Women and Polite Society in Eighteenth-Century Scotland

Katharine Glover


Boydell Press



Women are shown to have played an important and very visible role in society at the time.
Fashionable "polite" society of this period emphasised mixed-gender sociability and encouraged the visible participation of elite women in a series of urban, often public settings. Using a variety of sources (both men's and women's correspondence, accounts, bills, memoirs and other family papers), this book investigates the ways in which polite social practices and expectations influenced the experience of elite femininity in Scotland in the eighteenth century. It explores women's education and upbringing; their reading practices; the meanings of the social spaces and activities in which they engaged and how this fed over into the realm of politics; and the fashion for tourism at home and abroad. It also asks how elite women used polite social spaces and practices to extend their mental horizons and to form a sense of belonging to a public at a time when Scotland was among the most intellectually vibrant societies in Europe.


August 2011
228 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
St Andrews Studies in Scottish History
ISBN: 9781843836810
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Boydell Press
BISAC HIS037050, HIS015000, HIS054000
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Table of Contents

Elite Women and Eighteenth-Century Scottish Society
Education and Upbringing
Reading and Print Culture
Polite Sociability: Space and Social Practices
Politics and Influence
Travel, Tourism and Place
Appendix 1: Biographical Backgrounds


An excellent exemplar of the growing historiography of eighteenth-century Scottish social history. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW, vol. 128, no. 533, August 2013

The stories that Glover uncovers are fascinating. . In bringing the voices of these women out of the archives, Glover has made a valuable and compelling contribution to the growing scholarship on women in eighteenth-century Scotland. SCOTTISH LITERARY REVIEW

Beautifully written and a significant achievement. HISTORY SCOTLAND

A welcome contribution to the growing scholarship on elite women's lives and will be of interest to a wide variety of readers. HISTORY

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