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Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
By Kathleen Redman
1 Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz was an exceptional seventeenth-century nun who wrote about the rights of women to education long before the concept of women's rights or feminism existed. In a time when women of intellectual superiority and learning were not appreciated, her bold writing caused many problems for her and ended finally in her pen being silenced.
Juana Inés Ramirez was born out of wedlock to Isabel Ramirez and Manuel de Asbaje in a small village in Mexico, New Spain. Manuel soon abandoned the family, so mother and child spent a great deal of time with Juana's grandfather, Pedro Ramirez. When she was three years old she followed her sister to a school for girls where she learned to read. In her grandfather's book-filled house, Juana began her life-long quest for knowledge. (Girls of her time were rarely, if ever, formally educated.) She embarked on a life shaped by intellectual curiosity. She quickly became known in society and became a lady-in-waiting in the court of the Spanish viceroy. After four years she left the court for the nunnery. At the time, it was the best way for an illegitimately born woman to be given the time and resources for scholarship.
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