Mary Astell (2078 words)

Jennie Batchelor (University of Kent at Canterbury)
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Today Mary Astell is known as the first English feminist. In certain respects this title is something of a misnomer. The feminist concerns of Astell's work, including her passionate advocation of female education and vehement condemnation of the inequalities of marriage, had been addressed by earlier women writers such as Bathsua Makin and Anna Van Schurman. Equally, Astell's status as a feminist writer has troubled some critics who struggle to equate her assertion of the rights of women in marriage with her High Tory Anglican principles and her belief in the Divine Right of Kings. Unfortunately, little concrete biographical evidence exists to chronicle Astell's life. Unlike the better known feminist writer and novelist Mary …

Citation: Batchelor, Jennie. "Mary Astell". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 21 March 2002 [, accessed 22 October 2020.]

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