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Lady Mary, as Montagu is known, was among the truly independent women of eighteenth-century England. During her lifetime she was much admired as a poet of stylish wit; afterward she was highly regarded as a correspondent of keen observation. While still a young woman, she eloped with Edward Wortley Montagu and, when he was appointed ambassador, accompanied him to Constantinople. On her return to England, she brought with her the vaccine for smallpox (she had meanwhile contracted the disease). She was the leading woman of letters of her day, and, while she quarreled in print with her friends Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift, she returned their attacks with at least equal force. From 1739 until just before her death in 1762, she left England and her husband for Italy; from Brescia she wrote to her daughter letters so brimming with learning that Voltaire compared them favorably to those of Mme de Sevigne (see Vol. 2).