Celebrating International Women’s Day: Mary Astell

>, Library News>Celebrating International Women’s Day: Mary Astell

Celebrating International Women’s Day: Mary Astell

2016-11-23T10:23:50+00:003rd March 2015|CHL Celebrates, Library News|

In the week running up to International Women’s Day on 8th March 2015, we are celebrating women writers who paved the way for the early feminists and are still inspiring women to Make It Happen today.

There is still work to be done for greater equality around the world but let’s take a moment to remember the women who helped us come this far…

2. Mary Astell (1666-1731)

‘If all men are born free, how is it that all women are born slaves?’
Some Reflections Upon Marriage (1700)

Today’s champion is Mary Astell. Frequently referred to as the first English feminist, Astell was the daughter of an affluent coal merchant in Newcastle upon Tyne. She moved to London in the late 1680s, and her first published work was A Serious Proposal to the Ladies for the advancement of their true and greatest interest, which argued in support of the education of women. It proved to be an influential work, running to a further four editions by 1701, and provoking much debate and published response on the subject of women’s right to be educated. Chawton House Library’s holdings include a first edition of A Serious Proposal. Her words were radical in their day and many extracts are still just as meaningful now:

‘Let us learn to pride ourselves in something more excellent than the invention of a Fashion; And not entertain such a degrading thought of our own worth, as to imagine that our Souls were given us only for the service of our Bodies, and that the best improvement we can make of these, is to attract the Eyes of Men.’
A Serious Proposal to the Ladies, for the advancement of their true and greatest interest (1697)

Which women writers have inspired you? Let us know by emailing info@chawtonhouselibrary.org, commenting on https://www.facebook.com/ChawtonHouseLibrary or tweeting @ChawtonHouse #makeithappen #womensday