Juana Inés de Asbaje y Ramírez de Santillana, considered as the first female feminist in América
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Juana Inés de Asbaje y Ramírez de Santillana, considered as the first female feminist in América

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

Juana Inés de Asbaje, better known as Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, was born on November 12, 1651 in the State of Mexico, Mexico. She was one of the most important intellectuals in Mexico. She wrote poetry, plays and essays. She entered the Order of San Jerónimo to study, since women at that time were prevented from developing academically.

Her father, Manuel de Asbaje y Vargas, was a Spaniard who came from the lower nobility and sought new horizons in the colony of New Spain, now Mexico. And her mother, Isabel Ramírez de Santillana, who in her will declared herself in a state of singleness.

Her childhood:

  • At three years of age she uses a pious lie to force her older sister’s teacher to teach her, so at an early age she read and wrote
  • She wrote her first poem at age 8
  • Between eight and ten years old she is sent to Mexico City and separated from her mother’s womb
  • She learned the Nahuatl language

Her youth:

  • At age 15 she was accepted into the Spanish court after 40 doctors in theology, philosophy and humanities made a difficult examination
  • Maintains a relationship of extreme friendship with the viceroy Doña Leonor Carreto
  • She had to make the decision between the marriage and the cloister. Since she lacked dowry and name for being a “natural” daughter, she decided to take the habits. It is said that behind the disguise of a devotee, she hid her true purpose: freedom of thought
  • She learned Latin

Important events in its maturity:

  • Sor Juana Inés would live the rest of her adult life with the Jerónimas Sisters and that’s where she lived surrounded by astronomical, geographic and musical instruments
  • She came to accumulate more than 4000 books
  • The sharpness of Sor Juana allows her to perform subversive acts through her writing, in such an intelligent way that she minimizes the risks that run in her condition as a woman, a nun and a literata, in front of the hierarchy of the church

Main works:

  • Her first book of poetry was published in Spain in 1689
  • Her most famous long poem, First Dream, was published in 1692
  • Some other works are: Love is more labyrinth, The pawns of a house, The divine Narcissus, The scepter of Joseph, Allegorical Neptune, Love poetry, Christmas carols, The Athenagoric Letter
  • Her extensive work includes 211 profane works and 267 religious works

Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz died on April 17, 1695 in Mexico City at the age of 44 years


El Universal (November 2018) Sor Juana Inês de la Cruz declared “Illustrious Woman”. Retrieved 14 May 2019 from https://www.eluniversal.com.mx/english/sor-juana-ines-de-la-cruz-declared-an-illustrious-woman

Merrim Stephanie (April 2019) Sor Juana Inês de la Cruz Encyclopaedia Britannica Retrieved 14 May 2019 from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Sor-Juana-Ines-de-la-Cruz