She was born in 1689 in Thoresby in Nottinghamshire, the eldest daughter of Evelyn, Duke of Kingston, and Lady Mary Fielding. When she was only four years old, her mother died, and this event became a defining one in her life; for she was raised in a decidedly male environment, a fact that imparted her personality with a bluntness and daring that distinguished her from other aristocratic women of her era. As seems to be the case for many great travelers, she had to win her education through her own efforts. She developed an interest in the classical languages at an early age; but as good instruction was impossible to come by, she taught herself Latin, French, and the basics of Greek through her own unrelenting exertions. By her teenage years, she was composing verses.