Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: The Dinner Party: Heritage Floor: Elizabeth Vesey

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Unknown artist. Elizabeth Vesey, circa 1755–65. National Portrait Gallery, London

Elizabeth Vesey
b. 1715, Ossory, Ireland; d. 1791, London

Elizabeth Vesey was an important member of the Bluestockings, a loose-knit group of society women who hosted informal gatherings for literary and political discussions. Vesey wrote very little and never published, limiting her role to hostess. She is often credited with naming the group. As the story goes, she invited the scientist and writer Benjamin Stillingfleet to a gathering, but he said he had nothing to wear. She encouraged him to come anyway, despite the formal dress requirement that included wearing black stockings. He came wearing the much less formal blue stockings.

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