Mary Wortley Montagu

Life on the Golden Horn
  • Life on the Golden Horn

  • Travelling through the wartorn Balkans with her husband on what proved to be a wholly useless diplomatic mission to Constantinople, Mary Wortley Montagu (1689-1762) left a vivid, informative, clever account of her adventures in the mysterious, sophisticated culture of Ottoman palaces, bathing places and courts which - even as her husband's career was falling apart - she could not have enjoyed more.

    Great Journeys allows readers to travel both around the planet and back through the centuries – but also back into ideas and worlds frightening, ruthless and cruel in different ways from our own. Few reading experiences can begin to match that of engaging with writers who saw astounding things: Great civilisations, walls of ice, violent and implacable jungles, deserts and mountains, multitudes of birds and flowers new to science. Reading these books is to see the world afresh, to rediscover a time when many cultures were quite strange to each other, where legends and stories were treated as facts and in which so much was still to be discovered.

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689-1762) travelled in Constantinople in 1716 with her husband, who had been appointed ambassador there by the new Hanoverian king George I. The embassy was a total failure and they were rapidly recalled. By contrast, Lady Mary's brilliant letters recounting her experience form one of the great travelogues of their period and are an overwhelmingly enjoyable record of a spectacular court and its customs.

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