Books: Lady Mary, Quite Contrary

THE COMPLETE LETTERS OF LADY MARY WORTLEY MONTAGUE, VOLUME I (1708-1720), collected and edited by Robert Halsband. 468 pages. Oxford, $13.45.

Lady Who? A reasonable question, for the world has almost forgotten the greatest Englishwoman of the 18th century. Her beauty was the cynosure, her wit the terror, her private life the puzzlement of Hanoverian London. She was the confidante of one Prime Minister (Walpole) and the mother-in-law of another (Bute). She introduced smallpox vaccination to Europe. She rivaled Pope as a satiric versifier, dazzled Addison and Steele as an essayist. Above all...

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