The Historical Birthday-Tea Party 7th February

The 7th February is another date I have found no candidate for so here is

Mary de la Rivière Manley 1663-1724

Mary was briefly the editor of The Examiner, a Tory paper. She was the first English woman political journalist. She was arrested for her publication The New Atlantis (Secret memoirs and manners of several persons of quality, of both sexes, from the New Atlantis, an island in the Mediterranean) 1709.

She is here partly for being a first, and partly for her capacity for gossip, which provided further evidence of Queen Anne and her passionate friendships, and the attitude to them at the time:

Oh how laudable! how extraordinary! how wonderful! is the uncommon happiness of the cabal? They have wisely excluded that rapacious sex… they have all of happiness in themselves. Two beautiful ladies joined in an excess of amity (no word is tender enough to express their new delight) innocently embrace! for how can they be guilty? They vow eternal tenderness, they exclude the men and condition that they will always do so.

The Cabal, New Atlantis

The tone of this is intriguing, her tongue is self evidently in her cheek, at the same time as being quite kindly. Mary’s books were widely read and translated into both French and German. She married her uncle who was a fortune hunter, it turned out the marriage was bigamous, so she managed to get the marriage annulled but lost her money.

Mary’s tombstone:

Here lieth the body of Mrs. Delarivier Manley Daughter of Sir Roger Manley, Knight Who, suitable to her birth and education, Was acquainted with several Parts of Knowledge, And with the most polite Writers, both in the French and English tongue. This Accomplishment, Together with a greater Natural Stock of Wit, made her Conversation agreeable to all who knew Her, and her Writings to be universally Read with Pleasure. She died July 11th, 1724

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