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Recovering Lost Women’s Voices: The 17th-century manuscript letters of Marie Stewart, Countess of Mar

17th November, 2022, 2:00pm to 3:30pm


Would you queue for hours to see a 400-hundred-year-old piece of paper? In 2017 over a thousand people waited patiently in Edinburgh to steal a glance at the last ever letter written by Mary, Queen of Scots, the most famous woman in Scottish history. Such handwritten letters are uniquely personal objects, retaining traces of the writer’s touch and providing a direct physical link to people of the past.

Recovering Lost Women’s Voices: The 17th-century manuscript letters of Marie Stewart, Countess of Mar, Thursday 17th November 2022, 2pm to 3.30pm, Online, Free, 16+

Credit: Claire Elder & National Galleries of Scotland

Our national archives contain many letters penned by women, which offer modern audiences the opportunity to learn more about life and language in historic Scotland. However, few women are as well-known as Mary! In previous centuries female writings were often undervalued and destroyed or miscatalogued. Those who survive can be overlooked because they are difficult to access or locate. 

Together, let’s unlock an archival treasure trove of women’s letters preserved in the Scottish National Archives. These fascinating 17th-century manuscripts were sent and received by Marie Stewart, Countess of Mar, during a volatile period of religious and political upheaval and civil war with England. They show how women communicated using sophisticated linguistic and letter-writing skills. We will examine the intricate details of the paper, folding techniques, ink, script, wax seals and silk bindings via high-resolution photographs of the original documents. It is hoped that these stunning manuscripts will spark interest in further projects as we look toward a future where more Scottish archives are accessible when women’s voices silenced for centuries will be heard once more.






The event is free and open to all (16+). To attend, please book below and we will share an email invitation with you.  If you would like to make a donation to Glasgow Women’s Library, you can do so here.


This session takes place via an online video call link. If you would like to attend, please book below and we will share an email invitation along with simple and straight forward instructions on how this will work. If you have any concerns about how this will work for you, please do get in touch and we’ll do all we can to support you in joining the session.

An automated live transcript using Otter.ai is available during this event. 


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17th November, 2022
2:00pm to 3:30pm
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Glasgow Women’s Library
0141 550 2267
View Organiser Website


GWL Online