Mary Astell (1666–1731)

Mary Astell was a philosopher, an advocate of women’s education, and a pioneer of feminist thought. In this, her most celebrated work, she urges women to aspire to the life of the mind, arguing that this could be nourished in all-women communities or intellectual retreats. A Serious Proposal was topical, successful and much admired by many contemporary women and subsequent feminist thinkers. Her influence on the women’s movement has been immense.