Mary Astell Images

I am posting these images as a tag-along to my Wikipedia assignment. If I were ever brave enough to edit the article on Wikipedia, I would include the following images:


Analysis on Mary Astell Wikipedia Article

Analysis on Mary Astell Wikipedia Article
Well doing research for the Mary Astell Wikipedia article and comparing the researched information to that which was found on the Wikipedia website, I was pleasantly surprised. The article which is currently on Wikipedia had an abundance of information available for the general public; there were some areas which were lacking information so I expanded upon them. I also added some extra sections, in order for the reader to fully grasp the importance of Mary Astell’s work in the field of feminism, literature and philosophy. I feel as though the research on the Wikipedia article, is extensive and reputable but I felt that with a few revisions, as I have shown within my assignment – I was able to illuminate aspects of Mary Astell’s life which were not discussed at length previously. I also made editions to the introduction help to give an overall flow and clarity of the article. I also included more books of Mary Astell’s then what was mentioned on the first article, I add sections and edited others. Hopefully my research and work would allow the reader to gain a better and bigger understanding of one of the most important women in literature during the her time period.

Mary Astell – rewritten Wikipedia Article.

Mary Astell – Wikipedia Assignment

If all Men are born free, how is it that all Women are born Slaves?
– Mary Astell, Some Reflections on Marriage

Mary Astell (12 November 1666 – 11 May 1731) is an important figure in the history of women’s writing as well as feminist poetry. In recent years, scholars are citing her importance as a religious and political writer, as well as making valuable contributions to philosophy. She is known as an English feminist writer and rhetorician. She has earned the title of “the first English Feminist” due to her equal educational opportunities.

Life and Career

Historical evidence shows that Mary Astell was born in Newcastle upon Tyne into a family with links to the coal trade, which was a staple of the city’s economy in the seventeenth century. Mary Astell was born on November 12 1666, to her parents, Peter and Mary [Errington] Astell. Mary had two other siblings, William, who passed away while still a young infant and her younger brother Peter. The Erringtons were an Old Catholic family from Northumberland, who were quite wealthy. The Astells were coal merchants and had also been barristers. Mary’s brother Peter eventually became a lawyer and married his wife in 1700. Peter went on to have two sons, sadly his wife and children all died by 1712.

May Astell’s family was well-connected and prosperous. Her uncle (Ralph Astell) was considered an intellectual man; he was unmarried and had no children so he took it upon himself to education little Mary Astell in the art of philosophy; he had studied at Cambridge in theological doctrine. When her Uncle passed, it is assumed that Mary inherited his library collection.

Mary Astell’s father passed away when she just 12 years of age, and he left her without a dowry. Due to the reminder of the family’s fiancés invested in her brother’s education, Mary and her mother moved in with Mary’s Aunt.

After the death of her mother and aunt in 1688, Astell moved to Chelsea, London, where she was fortunate enough to become acquainted with a circle of literary and influential women (including Lady Mary Chudleigh, Elizabeth Thomas, Judith Drake, Elizabeth Elstob, and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu),[9] who assisted in the development and publication of her work. She was also in contact with the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Sancroft, who was known for his charitable works; Sancroft assisted Astell financially and, furthermore introduced her to her future publisher.
In response to a divorce, Mary Astell published Some Reflections upon Marriage in 1700. One valid point that Astell made was that in order for a woman to obtain a healthy marriage she should first receive an education.
In her third edition of Some Reflections upon Marriage, Astell responded to critics by urging women to seek out marriage based on friendship rather than necessity and pride.
After withdrawing from public life in 1709, Astell founded a charity school for girls in Chelsea as a token of the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge, organizing the school’s curriculum herself with likely financial support from her patrons Lady Catherine Jones and Lady Elizabeth Hastings. When she was sixty years old, she was invited to live with Lady Jones, where she resided until her death.

Astell died in 1731, a few months after a mastectomy to remove a cancerous right breast. In her last days, she refused to see any of her acquaintances and stayed in a room with her coffin, thinking only of God; she was buried in the churchyard of Chelsea Church in London.[13] Astell is remembered for her ability to debate freely with both contemporary men and women, and particularly for her groundbreaking methods of negotiating the position of women in society by engaging in philosophical debate (Descartes was a particular influence) rather than basing her arguments in historical evidence as had previously been attempted. Descartes’ theory of dualism, a separate mind and body, allowed Astell to promote the idea that women as well as men had the ability to reason, and subsequently they should not be treated so poorly: “If all Men are born Free, why are all Women born Slaves?”

Astell is considered a true figure of the Enlightenment; she had a practiced education, science, philosophy and politics. She studied in Flamsetted at the Royal Observatory at Greenwich. Astell is fundamentally an important role model to women of all ages, including other women writers in the eighteenth century; Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Lady Mary Chudleigh and others. Mary Astell was very serious about women’s education and she began a charity school for the daughters of pensioners in the Royal Hospital in Chelsea. She found this to be a suitable area for such an endeavor and raised funds for the school and planned the curriculum. In 1709 the school opened its doors and it continued to serve daughters of veterans into the next century.

Selected Works

A Collection of Poems Humbly Presented and Dedicated to the Most Reverend Father in God William [Sancroft] by Divine Providence Lord Archbishop of Canterbury etc. (1689)

A Serious Proposal to the Ladies for the Advancement of their True and Greatest Interest (1694)

Letters concerning the Love of God, between the Author of the Proposal to the Ladies and Mr. John Norris (1695)

A Serious Proposal to the Ladies, Part II, Wherein a Method is Offer’d for the Improvement of their Minds (1697)

Some Reflections upon Marriage, Occasion’d by the Duke & Duchessof Mazarine’s Case (1700)

A Fair Way with the Dissenters and their Patrons (1704)

Moderation Truly Stated; or, A Review of a Late Pamphlet, Entitul’d, Moderation a Vertue (1704)

An Impartial Enquiry into the Causes of Rebellion and Civil Wars in This Kingdom in an Examination of Dr. Kennett’s Sermon, Jan 31, 1703/4 and Vindication of the Royal Martyr (1704)

The Christian Religion as Profess’d by a Daughter of the Church of England in a Letter to the Right Honourable T. L., C. I. (1705)

Reflections upon Marriage. The Third Edition. To which is added a Preface, in Answer to Some Objections (1706)

Bart’lemy Fair; or, An Enquiry after Wit (1709)


Springborg, Patricia, ed. Political Writings. Cambridge, U.K., 1996. Useful and well-edited collection of Reflections upon Marriage, A Fair Way with the Dissenters, and An Impartial Enquiry.

Springborg, Patricia, ed. A Serious Proposal to the Ladies. London, 1997.

Springborg, Patricia, ed. A Serious Proposal to the Ladies. Peterborough, Ontario, 2002.

Her two most well known books, A Serious Proposal to the Ladies, for the Advancement of Their True and Greatest Interest (1694) and A Serious Proposal, Part II (1697), outline Astell’s plan to establish a new type of institution for women to assist in providing women with both religious and secular education. Astell suggests extending women’s career options beyond mother and nun. Astell wanted all women to have the same opportunity as men to spend eternity in heaven with God, and she believed that for this they needed to be educated and to understand their experiences. The ‘nunnery’ style education she proposed would enable women to live in a protected environment, without the influences of the external patriarchal society.
Her proposal was never adopted because critics said it seemed “too Catholic” for the English. Later her ideas about women were satirized in the Tatler by the writer Jonathan Swift.[15] While the writer Daniel Defoe admired the first part of Astell’s proposal, he believed that her recommendations were “impracticable.” However, Patricia Springborg notes that Defoe’s own recommendation for an academy for women as detailed in his Essay Upon Projects did not significantly differ from Astell’s original proposal.[16] Despite this, she was still an intellectual force in London’s educated classes.
A few years later, Astell published the second part of A Serious Proposal, detailing her own vision of women’s education for courtly ladies. She broke away from the contemporary rhetorical style of the period where orators spoke before an audience for learning, and instead offered a conversational style of teaching “neighbors” the proper way of behavior. She referred only to the Port-Royal Logic as a source of contemporary influence, though still relied upon classical rhetorical theories as she presented her own original ideas. In her presentation, she offered that rhetoric, as an art, does not require a male education to be master, and listed the means of which a woman could acquire the necessary skills from natural logic, which established Astell as a capable female rhetorician.[17]
In the early 1690s Astell entered into correspondence with John Norris of Bemerton, after reading Norris’s Practical Discourses, upon several Divine subjects. The letters illuminate Astell’s thoughts on God and theology. Norris thought the letters worthy of publication and had them published with Astell’s consent as Letters Concerning the Love of God (1695). Her name did not appear in the book, but her identity was soon discovered and her rhetorical style was much lauded by contemporaries.
Philosophical Principles

Mary Astell is known in the modern age as an early feminist, but it should be understand that she was foremost a philosopher. Her feminist literature was written with the purpose to defend a women’s given right to education and to the right of freedom of the mind. She actively debated with great minds, such as her contemporaries John Locke, John Norris, Shaftesbury and Bishop George Berkeley. She questioned them all on the important and influential questions of the day. She asked about the role of God in all types of situations, specifically the production of pain and pleasure. She questioned the role of faith, of reason or propositional logic. She asked questions that many wanted the answers to, she asked if human beings are born with innate ideas or if they are a product of society and surroundings.

Important Quotes from the works of Mary Astell

Your glass will not do you half so much service as a serious reflection on your own minds.
—A Serious Proposal to the Ladies, Part I

Although it has been said by men of more wit than wisdom, and perhaps more malice than either, that women are naturally incapable of acting prudently, or that they are necessarily determined to folly, I must by no means grant it.
—A Serious Proposal to the Ladies, Part I

Seeing it is ignorance, either habitual or actual, which is the cause of all Sin, how are they like to escape this, who are bred up in that? That therefore women are unprofitable to most, and a plague and dishonour to some Men is not much to be regretted on account of the Men, because ’tis the product of their own folly, in denying them the benefits of an ingenuous and liberal Education.
—A Serious Proposal to the Ladies, Part I

We all agree that its fit to be as Happy as we can, and we need no Instructor to teach us this Knowledge, ’tis born with us, and is inseparable from our Being, but we very much need to be Inform’d what is the true Way to Happiness.
—A Serious Proposal to the Ladies, Part II. Ch. 1.

It is not the Head but the Heart that is the Seat of Atheism.
—A Serious Proposal to the Ladies, Part II. Ch. 1.

Unhappy is that Grandeur which makes us too great to be good; and that Wit which sets us at a distance from true Wisdom.
—Some Reflections upon Marriage

If all men are born free, how is it that all women are born slaves?
—Some Reflections upon Marriage

Why is Slavery so much condemn’d and strove against in one Case, and so highly applauded and held so necessary and so sacred in another?
—Some Reflections upon Marriage

The Span of Life is too short to be trifled away in unconcerning and unprofitable Matters.
—Letters Concerning the Love of God. Letter V.

“Upon the principles of reason, the good of many is preferable to the good of a few or of one; a lasting good is to be preferred before a temporary, the public before the private.”
—The Christian Religion.

Certain I am, that Christian Religion does no where allow Rebellion.
—An Impartial Enquiry into the Causes of Rebellion.

Mary Wollstonecraft

Famous for being a female writer and an advocate for Women’s Rights. She is especially famous for her novel “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman”. Mary argues that women are deserving of an education and that they are an asset to the nation. Instead of being wives -women could be companions to their husbands, equals. Mary stated that women are deserving of the same fundamental rights that men have.

“My own sex, I hope, will excuse me, if I treat them like rational creatures, instead of flattering their fascinating graces, and viewing them as if they were in a state of perpetual childhood, unable to stand alone.”

“It is time to effect a revolution in female manners – time to restore to them their lost dignity – and make them, as a part of the human species, labour by reforming themselves to reform the world. It is time to separate unchangeable morals from local manners.”

“Love from its very nature must be transitory. To seek for a secret that would render it constant would be as wild a search as for the philosopher’s stone or the grand panacea: and the discovery would be equally useless, or rather pernicious to mankind. The most holy band of society is friendship.”

Anne of Green Gables

As mentioned at the first of this blog, I am very fond of the Anne of Green Gables story. I even traveled to PEI this summer to dress up as the iconic charter. I really feel that I must at least post one more entry on this subject, just because. I wanted to share with viewers some of my favorite Anne “moments”.
Diana Barry: I wish I were rich, and I could spend the whole summer at a hotel, eating ice cream and chicken salad.
Anne Shirley: You know something, Diana? We are rich. We have sixteen years to our credit, and we both have wonderful imaginations. We should be as happy as queens.
[gestures to the setting sun]
Anne Shirley: Look at that. You couldn’t enjoy its loveliness more if you had ropes of diamonds.
Diana Barry: I don’t know about that.
– I really enjoy this moment in the story, where Anne embodies the spirit of imagination and freedom, proving that money is not the only way to richness.

Anne Shirley: Please, Matthew. You need help. We’ve got to get a doctor.
Matthew Cuthbert: I’ve worked hard all my life. I’d rather just drop in the harness. I got old; I never noticed.
Anne Shirley: If I’d been the boy you sent for, I could have spared you in so many ways.
Matthew Cuthbert: I never wanted a boy. I only wanted you from the first day. Don’t ever change. I love my little girl. I’m so proud of my little girl.
– One of the more emotional scenes in the first novel, where Matthew has a heartattack and expresses how he never wanted the boy they sent for. It really proves to Anne that she was wanted all along, no matter the mixups or troubles she may have caused.

[Marilla meets with Mrs. Barry and Rachel after Diana got drunk]
Mrs. Barry: Marilla, I don’t believe a word. Anne Shirley is a conniving, manipulating child and she’s pulled the wool over your eyes.
Rachel Lynde: I always warned you about making that current wine, Marilla. You said it wouldn’t have the least effect on anyone. Well, I ask you.
Marilla Cuthbert: It isn’t meant to be drunk three tumbler-fulls at a time! And if I had a child that was so greedy, I’d sober her up with a darn good spanking!
Mrs. Barry: Oh! So it’s my Diana’s fault, is it?
Rachel Lynde: It’s the demon liquor’s fault. And as I told you for years, if you didn’t insist on making that current wine…
Marilla Cuthbert: [Marillla quickly then cut in furious anger] My current wine is famous all over the island, Rachel Lynde, as you very well know. And the Reverend Allen himself is not opposed to taking a bit when he comes calling. And as for Christian virtue: making a little wine for a refreshment is far less sinful than
[then shouted extra loud, speaking]
Marilla Cuthbert: meddling in other people’s affairs!
Rachel Lynde: [in shock] Oh!
[Marilla leaves]
Marilla Cuthbert: [to Mrs. Allen] Of all the unreasonable, pig-headed, self-important women that I have ever met – she is the worst!
– This happens after my favorite scene – Anne invites Diana over for tea and accidentally gives her wine. Poor Diana gets drunk and her mother is livid. I actually preformed this scene with a friend of mine in high school for our theater arts class.

Dorothy Osborne

Dorothy Osborne has gained fame in the English community for her 77 letters she wrote for her husband (to-be) Sir William Temple. (After the marriage she wrote 9 more letters to her husband) Some sources note that Dorothy also defied her family by not marrying someone of their choosing! After her marriage to Sir William Temple, Dorothy was referred to as Lady Temple.
Many scholars describe her writing as “witty, progressive and socially illuminating.”

“I agree with you, too, that I do not see any great likelihood
of the change of our fortunes, and that we have much more
to wish than to hope for; but ’tis so common a calamity that
I dare not murmur at it; better people have endured it, and I
can give no reason why (almost) all are denied the satisfaction
of disposing themselves to their own desires, but that it is a

happiness too great for this world, and might endanger one’s
forgetting the next.”

– Dorothy Osborne

Mary Sidney

Mary Sidney, also referred to as the Countess of Pembroke has notable English and history fame due to being one of the first English women to gain fame for her poetry and writings.

“My fellow, my companion, help most dear, My soul, my other self, my inward friend.”
– Mary Sidney

Her list of works is very impressive, and the depth of her writings is moving and emotional. A quick google search shows her quotes as being used for weddings, and other showers type events, in order to convey the deep emotion that her writings bring to the world.

“My fellow, my companion, held most dear, My soul, my other self, my inward friend.”
-Mary Sidney

Mary Sidney was invited to the court of Queen Elizabeth I – The Queen favored Mary. Mary Sidney was a well educated woman, she was taught French, Italian, Latin, Greek and music. Her literary works have inspired many, including John Donne and that is no small feat for anyone!