Gotta be a woman, right?

How Mary Wortley Montagu’s bold experiment led to smallpox vaccine – 75 years before Jenner
A new book celebrates the trailblazing work of the English aristocrat, who successfully inoculated her daughter

Yes, she did. But what she did can be best explained by using the correct words. She brought the Turkish practice of variolation – infection with smallpox at a low level – to Britain. Jenner brought vaccination – the use of cowpox to create the immunity – which is a different thing.

But, you know, gotta be a woman to celebrate, right? Even if the acts need to be bigged up……

12 thoughts on “Gotta be a woman, right?”

  1. Even she is being trumped in the story doing the rounds that a slave woman in America beat her to it.

  2. It is interesting to imagine how Donna Ferguson would put it if wicked Jenner had adopted the evil habit of the uncivilised Turks of infecting people with smallpox.

    And the heroic milkmaid, Mary Wortley Montague then discovered that infecting them with the cowpox that was the normal peril of the milkmaid’s trade, provided protection at much less risk.

  3. How the west used to laugh at Soviet claims that every invention of note could be traced back to one of many brilliant pochemuchka because, of course, that was revisionist nonsense.

  4. Gunker: I’d guess the fact that a black male slave introduced variolation to the Colonies at about the same time as Wortley did to England is a particularly gross and outrageous example of the utterly vile White Supremacists’ action in denigrating both black people and white women to demonstrate their patriarchal power.

    In reality of course it merely demonstrates that in 1720, as indeed now, Europeans didn’t know everything. However it also demonstrates the willingness of two branches of the English diaspora to learn from others when the opportunity arose.

  5. She brought the Turkish practice of variolation . . .

    White privilege. Cultural appropriation. Class privilege. There’s child endangerment too, but obviously that’s not in the same league.

    The fucking Tories! angle was fun. Shame that the trailblazing science and feminism of illiterate old Greek and Armenian women had to be trumped by promoting Islam, but hey ho, Rome wasn’t undermined in a day.

  6. The work can’t have been that trailblazing otherwise there would have been nothing for Jenner to do 75 years later.

  7. Viral load is important. The high rate of hospital worker mortality in the early days can be explained by high and repeat dose of the virus.
    So if we hadn’t had these stupid lockdowns we’d have been exposed to low doses of virus at longer intervals, priming our natural defences so that we would by now have achieved herd immunity. That would have been the equivalent of variolation. Most of the infection we would have had would have been from degraded viral matter.

  8. Theophrastus (2066)

    “…a new biography will aim to raise the profile of Wortley Montagu and reassert her rightful place in history as a trailblazing 18th-century scientist…”

    Innovator, yes; “scientist”, no.

    ‘“If she had not inoculated her daughter, we would not then have gone on ultimately to find a cure for smallpox,” said Jo Willett…’

    Not true. See, for example, Matt Ridley at:

  9. “How the west used to laugh at Soviet claims that every invention of note could be traced back to one of many brilliant pochemuchka because, of course, that was revisionist nonsense.”

    We have allowed the same scum to breed here.

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