Born November 12, 1666 in England, Mary Astell was the first British feminist writer, nonfiction writer, essayist, and poet. Her published work consisted of argumentative issues about women's education, marriage, and political and religious philosophy. Specifically relating to the status of women, Astell thought about numerous controversial concerns of the era in her essays and pamphlets which were distributed anonymously to keep her identity a secret. Astell stood for her belief that women should not be obligated into marriage and helped the thought of a Protestant equivalent of a convent, where unmarried women could be able to devote themselves to education and religious responsibilities, in such pamphlets as "A Serious Proposal To The Ladies For The Advancement Of Their True And Greatest Interest" (1694) and "Some Reflections Upon Marriage" (1700). In addition to, Astell showed herself to be a perceptive critic of the social theories of, The Father of Liberalism, John Locke, in "Some Reflections Upon Marriage" and other writings, involving "The Christian Religion As Profess'd By A Daughter Of The Church Of England" (1705). Astell was a complicated figure whose approval of the monarchy and the Anglican Church is every now and then seen as contradictory to her feminist mind.
To Peter and Mary Astell, Mary Astell was born in Newcastle upon Tyne to a family of upper middle class. Her father was a conservative royalist Anglican who managed a local coal company. As a woman, she received an informal education form her uncle, Ralph Astell, a clergyman at St. Nicholas's Church in Newscastle, who taught her logic, mathematics, philosophy, french, and latin which was a good education for the time. After the death of Astells's father at the age of twelve years old in 1678, her family suffered with financial problems. With the remainder of the family's finances invested in her younger brother Peter's higher education, Astell and her mother relocated to...
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