Mary Wortley Montagu and the Fight to Cure Smallpox

  • Free
  • Discussion
  • Speech-to-text

Watch a recording of writer and BAFTA Award-winning TV producer Jo Willett in this online event that explores and celebrates the life of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, who played a key role during an outbreak of smallpox in 1721.

During her travels in Turkey, Montagu witnessed the power of inoculation and defied the medical establishment back in England when she brought back the practice, ensuring that her three-year-old daughter became the first person inoculated in Western Europe. This April marks 300 years since this smallpox epidemic, and this event features material from Wellcome Collection to illustrate this deadly disease.

Jo Willet reflects on how Montagu’s life and legacy have been remembered, though often ignored, as typical of the treatment of women in science.

About your speaker

Photograph of Jo Willett

Jo Willett

Jo Willett is a BAFTA Award-winning TV producer. Her first book, ‘The Pioneering Life of Mary Wortley Montagu’, is published in March 2021.



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This event will have live speech-to-text transcription which may be useful for people who are D/deaf, hard of hearing, deafened or neurodiverse. The text will be embedded in the event video window and ticketholders will also receive a link to open subtitles in a separate window.

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