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born 1776

Known for her sharp mind + sharper tongue, the Lady Hester Stanhope never let her "narrow income" or what was expected of her as an 18th-century gentlewoman dictate her words or deeds. Terrified of boredom and a conventional life, the socialite sought adventure in faraway places. She traveled throughout the Middle East in male dress, learning about different cultures, conversing with notoriously powerful Arab leaders and even conducting amateur archeological digs {for buried treasure!}.

Whether in England or Egypt, Hester demanded respect wherever she went. She was treated like a queen, and later on, as a prophetess.

bio bits

her quotes

all quotes by Hester Stanhope (12)

"I have, therefore, taken the determination to divert my thoughts by travelling."

to Mr. T. J. Jackson {quoted in Life and Letters} | january 1801

"I have been going to be married fifty times in my life; said to have been married half as often, and run away with once. But provided I have my own way, the world may have theirs and welcome."

to Mr. T.J. Jackson {quoted in Life and Letters} | april 1801

"I am anxious to ... tell you of my growing passion for the Navy. ... I am determined to think that this profession requires a man to be handsome, elegant, and agreeable; to have genius, as well as understanding."

to Mr. T. J. Jackson {quoted in Life and Letters} | may 1802

"I like travelling of all things; it is a constant change of ideas."

to Mr. T.J. Jackson {quoted in Life and Letters} | july 1803

"Nature forms us in a certain manner, both inwardly and outwardly, and it is in vain to attempt to alter it."

Memoirs of the Lady Hester Stanhope ~ Vol. II | 1800

"Away I went, putting my faith in that God who has never quite forsaken me in all my various misfortunes."

to Mr. Murray {quoted in Life and Letters} | january 1812

"I have always found that giving too much education was only painting a character over, and that . . . whatever is born in man will, sooner or later, show itself."

Memoirs of the Lady Hester Stanhope | august 1836

"Everybody has a character, and so they have a behind: but they don't go about showing the one any more than the other."

Memoirs of the Lady Hester Stanhope | january 1838

"I am not bound to give reasons for what I do to anybody."

Memoirs of the Lady Hester Stanhope | january 1838

"It is only the vulgar who are always fancying themselves insulted. If a man treads on another's toe in good society, do you think it is taken as an insult?"

Memoirs of the Lady Hester Stanhope | january 1838

"[I]f people expect that I should not tell them the truth to their face, they are mistaken; and if you or anybody else acts a fool, I must say so."

Memoirs of the Lady Hester Stanhope | january 1838

"I have no reproaches to make myself, but that I went rather too far; but such is my nature."

to Lord Hardwick {quoted in Life and Letters} | june 1839
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curated with care by Angela Willard {august 2014}