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Television producer and author, Jo Willett will be joining an online event hosted by Welbeck's Harley Gallery.

As author of The Pioneering Life of Mary Wortley Montagu, Jo will talk about the extraordinary Lady Mary and her friendship with Welbeck Abbey’s Lady Henrietta Cavendish Holles Harley.

The two grew up just 10 miles apart and were to become lifelong friends. Lady Henrietta became Countess of Oxford and Mortimer and, unusual for females of that time, inherited Welbeck Abbey, playing an important part in its history. Lady Mary, meanwhile, grew up at Thoresby Hall, before making her name as a science campaigner.

It was during a smallpox epidemic in April 1721 that Lady Mary took the then courageous step of protecting her three-year-old with an inoculation. As the wife of the British ambassador, she had seen the effects of inoculation in Turkey and her daughter was the first to be protected against smallpox in the west. Her pioneering action paved the way for Edward Jenner’s smallpox vaccination, which prevented millions of deaths.

Anyone wishing to book a space on the talk should email More details can be found at

TalkMuseums online

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