You’ve probably heard me talk about The Bluestocking Belles. Jude Knight wrote this excellent history and explanation of the name we’ve chosen as our own.
Readers of historical romances, especially those set in Georgian and Regency England, are familiar with the term ‘bluestocking’. A woman described as a bluestocking will be clever, fond of reading, interested in more than fashion and social gossip, and perhaps radical in her opinions about the education and rights of women.
Few, though, know where the term started. What do blue stockings have to do with educated women?
In the 17th century, men wore black silk stockings as part of their formal dress. Stockings knitted from blue worsted were for casual wear only, the 17th century equivalent of today’s blue jeans. If you were described as blue-stockinged in the 17th century, you were dressed informally.
In the mid-18th century, several English women founded literary salons, following the Paris model—places that people could come to discuss books and ideas. At one such salon, hosted by a lady called Elizabeth Montagu, ostentatious evening dress was not encouraged. Instead, people turned up in less formal clothes, and a man by the name of Benjamin Stillingfleet habitually wore blue-grey stockings.
When Admiral Boscawen wanted to mock everyone who enjoyed such intellectual pursuits, he seized on this habit to call the whole set ‘bluestockings’. Elizabeth Montagu and her friends adopted the term, calling themselves the Blue Stockings Society, or the Blues.
By the 19th century, the term was only applied to educated, intellectual women, and was usually considered derogatory.
Educated, intellectual women? Heck yeah! We’ll take it.
The Bluestocking Belles and the Teatime Tattler
The Bluestocking Belles are eight very different writers united by a love of history and a history of writing about love. From sweet to steamy, from light-hearted fun to dark tortured tales full of angst, from London ballrooms to country cottages to oriental slums, one or more of us will have a tale to suit your tastes and mood. And we love educated, intellectual women! In fact, our charity of choice is the Malala Fund, which is dedicated to providing education for women in six of the world’s poorest communities.
What do the Bluestocking Belles’ historical romance characters do when they aren’t entertaining readers in our books? Turn to the popular Regency gossip rag, the Teatime Tattler, to find out!
In The Collected 2015 Editions of the Teatime Tattler, these bestselling and award-winning HistRom writers bring you a collection of short stories, interviews, cameos, backstories, and scandals, all vignettes connected, one way or another, to the novels and novellas that you know and love, illuminating our characters in ways you cannot find in any of our books.
You can buy The Collected Edition from one of these retailers:
Smashwords or Amazon or iTunes