Elstob, Elizabeth (1683–1756)

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Elstob, Elizabeth (1683–1756)

English Anglo-Saxon scholar. Born in Newcastle, England, in 1683; died in 1756.

Renowned as one of the few women scholars of her day, Elizabeth Elstob received her early education from her mother who died when she was eight. She then went to live with her uncle, the Reverend C. Elstob, in Canterbury, where she continued her language studies despite her uncle's disapproval. From 1702 to 1715, Elstob resided in London with her brother William, a cleric and also an Anglo-Saxon scholar. There, she undertook the translation of Madeleine de Scudéry 's Essay on Glory and the Anglo-Saxon Homily on the Nativity of St. Gregory (1709), in which she used the preface to defend the right of women to obtain an education and to engage in theological discussions about the Old English Church. In 1715, she produced a grammar book, Rudiments of Grammar for the English-Saxon Tongue, first given in English; with an Apology for the Study of Northern Antiquities. A proposed edition of Aelfric's Homilies, for which she obtained several eminent patrons, including Queen Caroline of Ansbach and Lord Oxford, was never completed.

After her brother's death, Elstob encountered financial difficulties that ended her scholarly pursuits. In 1718, to escape her debts, she left London and opened a small school in Even-sham, Worcestershire, which provided a modest income. In 1738, she became the governess to the children of Margaret Bentinck , the duchess of Portland and daughter of Lord Oxford, remaining there until her death in 1756.

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Elstob, Elizabeth (1683–1756)

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