elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,
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elisa_rolle

Lady Barbara Montague & Sarah Scott

The eighteenth-century novelist Sarah Scott (September 21, 1720 – November 3, 1795) challenges the sex-gender system of her society and claims narrative authority for women loving women.

The details of Sarah (Robinson) Scott's private life are becoming increasingly familiar. Born in 1723 to an established Yorkshire family, Sarah Robinson began writing at an early age; her sister, with whom she was close, was the famous "bluestocking" Elizabeth Montague; in 1748, she met Lady Barbara Montague (no relation to her sister), the daughter of the first earl of Halifax and his wife Lady Mary Lumley, with whom she maintained an intimate relation until Lady Barbara's death in 1765.

In 1751, Sarah Robinson married George Lewis Scott, and she separated from him in 1752. Her first novel, The History of Cornelia, appeared in 1750. Between 1750 and her death in 1795, Sarah Scott published four more novels and three histories.

Millenium Hall (1762) was her most popular work. Millenium Hall attempts to challenge the "sex-gender system" by working within the structure of exemplary narratives, such as were popular in midcentury, to offer an alternative to male-oriented interpretations of female sexual power.

In doing so, Scott challenges as well our conceptions of female sexuality in the eighteenth century and our preconceptions concerning female-female relations within that extraordinarily imprecise category of "romantic friendship," which flourished throughout the later eighteenth century.


©Henry Meyer (1782?-1847), after Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792). Lady Henrietta Montagu; Elizabeth Scott (nee Montagu), Duchess of Buccleuch (when Lady Elizabeth Montagu), 1763 (©4)
Sarah Scott was an English novelist, translator, and social reformer; in 1748, Sarah met Lady Barbara Montague, the daughter of the first earl of Halifax, with whom she maintained an intimate relation until Lady Barbara's death in 1765. In 1748, the two women pooled their finances and took a house together in Bath. In June 1751, Sarah married George Lewis Scott, but the marriage was never consummated. Soon she went back living with Lady Barbara and they settled in Bath.


In Millenium Hall, Scott offers a narrative form that challenges patriarchy with the tales of a group of women who remain at the end of their romantic adventures "happily unmarried." Although nominally written as a letter from "a gentleman on his travels," the novel establishes an elaborate strategy to resist the authority of the patriarchal narrative voice.

Scott's seemingly crude arrangement of internal narration--the novel consists of a series of tales told by or about the inhabitants of Millenium Hall--represents the most obvious of her techniques: The tales create a female subject position within the text in order to undermine the "romance plot" that was already strong enough to determine popular expectation. By challenging the conventions of romantic narrative, Scott is able to reconceive their ideological range.

In her personal life, Sarah Scott found an alternative to the ruthlessly limited possibilities available to women in the eighteenth century. In this novel, she dramatizes this discovery in a way that claims narrative authority for women loving women and offers women in general an escape from the prison-house of patriarchal narrative.

Citation Information
Author: Haggerty, George E.
Entry Title: Scott, Sarah
General Editor: Claude J. Summers
Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture
Publication Date: 2002
Date Last Updated November 18, 2002
Web Address www.glbtq.com/literature/scott_s.html
Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL 60607
Today's Date November 3, 2012
Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.
Entry Copyright © 1995, 2002 New England Publishing Associates

Further Readings:

Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1500563323
ISBN-13: 978-1500563325
CreateSpace Store: https://www.createspace.com/4910282
Amazon (Paperback): http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500563323/?tag=elimyrevandra-20
Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MZG0VHY/?tag=elimyrevandra-20

Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher


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Tags: author: sarah scott, days of love
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