Mary Astell (1666–1731)
DOI link for Mary Astell (1666–1731)
Mary Astell (1666–1731) book
This chapter discusses life history of Mary Astell, a feminist thinker, who is famous for her rhetorical questions concerning the enslavement of women, is both typical and atypical of early modern feminists. She is also typical in being involved in women's education. Mary Astell is atypical, however, both in the range of her work and its wide contemporary reception, often extending to several editions, and sometimes the subject of lampooning and plagiarism. From 1703 to 1709, Astell had been engaged as a High Church Tory pamphleteer, producing two pamphlets important in the debate on the occasional conformity of dissenters: A Fair Way with the Dissenters and their Patrons, addressed to Daniel Defoe, and Moderation truly Stated, both of 1704. Astell as an early modern feminist and social commentator risked her reputation to venture something new: a fine sociological sensibility for the social consequences of gentrification accompanying the expansion of market society and increasing disposable income among the middle classes.