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Breaking Up of the Blue Stocking Club
image id: ps_cps_cd3_049

Thomas Rowlandson (1756–1827)
Breaking Up of the Blue Stocking Club
Etching, hand-colored
London: Thomas Tegg, 1815
NYPL, The Carl H. Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle

Rowlandson’s print reminds us that the newer image of women as passive “angels of the house” was not the only one carrying cultural currency; older images of women who were raucous and ready for a fight were still funny to audiences in 1815. The melee he depicts, however, in which bluestockings—a semi-contemptuous term for learned women —fight like fishwives and spill “French cream” (shorthand for their supposed interest in the French Revolution), is a far cry from the decorous bluestocking teas that Hannah More had attended decades earlier.

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