On the margins of scholarship: the letters of Elizabeth Elstob to George Ballad, 1735-1753

Dawn Laura Hollis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The letters of Elizabeth Elstob to George Ballard, here edited for the first time, provide valuable insights into the nature and function of scholarly friendship in eighteenth-century England. Elstob and Ballard, one an impoverished schoolmistress, the other a chandler and milliner, relied on one another in their early correspondence for both scholarly conversation and resources. During the course of their correspondence both experienced a change in fortunes, and later letters demonstrate the aid that Elstob provided Ballard in securing subscriptions for the publication of his 1752 Memoirs of Several Ladies of Great Britain. Elstob’s status as a woman scholar has received much attention. The introduction to this edition – which sets the letters in the context of Elstob’s earlier published writings and overviews previous scholarship regarding her life and work – suggests that this emphasis detracts from Elstob’s achievement as a scholar in her own right, and overshadows the potential of more nuanced discussions regarding the role that gender played in her intellectual pursuits. The introduction also proposes that the changing fortunes of both Elstob and Ballard demonstrate that social status and income could be as much of a barrier as gender to the supported pursuit of scholarly activities, and of access to formal intellectual communities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-268
Number of pages101
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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