The Lady Mary Wortley Montagu was an English aristocrat and writer. Montagu is today chiefly remembered for her letters, particularly her letters from Turkey, which have been described by Billie Melman as “the very first example of a secular work by a woman about the Muslim Orient”.
Montagu's Turkish letters were frequently cited by imperial women travellers, more than a century after her journey. Such writers cited Montagu's assertion that women travellers could gain an intimate view of Turkish life that was not available to their male counterparts. However, they also added corrections or elaborations to her observations. Julia Pardoe, in describing her own visit to a bathhouse, wrote "I should be unjust if I did not declare that I saw none of that unnecessary and wanton exposure described by Lady Mary Montagu. Either the fair Ambassadress was present at a peculiar ceremony, or the Turkish ladies have become more delicate and fastidious in the ideas of propriety." Emmeline Lott, who wrote a book about her experience working as a governess for the son of Ishamel Pasha, claimed that Montagu's aristocratic rank meant that she had seen only the most attractive elements of Oriental life: "...her handsome train, Lady Ambassadress as she was, swept but across the splendid carpeted floors of these noble Saloons of Audience, all of which had been, as is invariably the custom, well “swept and garnished” for her reception."
Her Letters and Works were published in 1837. Montagu's octogenarian granddaughter Lady Louisa Stuart contributed to this, anonymously, an introductory essay called Biographical Anecdotes of Lady M. W. Montagu, from which it was clear that Stuart was troubled by her grandmother's focus on sexual intrigues and did not see Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's Account of the Court of George I at his Accession as history.
In 1901, her letters were edited and published as The Best Letters of Mary Wortley Montagu by Octave Thanet.