Mary Astell
Newcastle, England
    Unlike many other women philosophers, Mary Astell came from a family of merchants which didn't classify her as a member of the nobility.  She led a very quiet and private life while growing up, and both of her parents died by the time she was 18 years old.
    She moved to London in search of something better, and she came across a bookseller who gave her a job writing pamphlets.
    Mary lived a very simple life with few friends, and she never got married.  At the age of 65 she died of breast cancer.
    Astell wrote a great deal about a variety of subjects with several writings relating to religious and political controversies.  Today she is widely known for her feminist writings which include A Serious Proposal to the Ladies and Reflections on Marriage.  Mary "argues that women's shortcomings are due to lack of education and not to lack of native intellectual ability."  She desired the creation of institutions for women to be educated or for them to simply live, if unmarried.  In 1695, she wrote Letters Concerning the Love of God, which questioned the role of God in relation to the causes of pain and sin, as well as our reasons for loving only God. 5

Return to Home