Montagu, Elizabeth

BORN 2 Oct 1720, York - DIED 25 Aug 1800, London: Montagu House, Portland Square
BIRTH NAME Robinson, Elizabeth
GRAVE LOCATION Winchester, Hampshire: Winchester Cathedral

Daughter of the country gentleman Matthew Robinson and his wife Elizabeth Drake. Novelist Sarah Scott was her sister. She learnt Latin, French and Italian and studied literature. In 1738 she stated in a letter that she had no desire for a man or a marriage, but in 1742 she married Edward Montagu, the grandson of the duke of Sandwich. He was fifty years old at the time. They had a son that was very dear to her but he died in 1744.

She spent part of the year in London where she was a well known hostess and by 1770 her salon was famous and attracted visits from Samuel Johnson, Joshua Reynolds, Edmund Burke, David Garrick and many others. She supported several authors, among them Frances Burney, Hannah More and Elizabeth Carter.

Encouraged by Geoerge Lyttleton she wrote "Dialogues of the Dead" in 1760. In 1769 she published an essay on Shakespeare. Her husband died in 1775 and his large income from coal mines and land holdings was now hers. She adopted her nephew Matthew Robinson as her heir. In 1781 she moved to Montagu House in Portland Square in London. There she lived until her death in 1800.


Gravestone for Elizabeth Montagu at Winchester Cathedral.
Picture by Androom (25 Aug 2015)


Memorial tablet for Elizabeth Montagu at Winchester Cathedral.
Picture by Androom (25 Aug 2015)


• Daiches, David (ed.), The Penguin Companion to Literature 1, Penguin Books, 1971
• Todd, Janet (ed.), Dictionary of British Woman Writers, Routledge, London, 1989
Elizabeth Montagu - Wikipedia

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Published: 13 Sep 2015
Last update: 07 Apr 2022