Margaret Cavendish

Biography

(1623-1673)

Margaret Cavendish was everything a stereotypical 17th century woman was not. She was a writer, philosopher, outspoken critic, proto-feminist who "dreaded marriage and only married [her husband] Cavendish because he was a worthy man, full of wit, and respectful towards her." Between 1654 and 1668 she published 14 books, including collections of poetry, drama, fiction, philosophy, and memoir. Her own penchant for publicity can be seen in the byline of her book "The Blazing World," which reads, "By the Thrice Noble, Illustrious, and Excellent PRINCESS, THE Duchess of Newcastle." Despite her own claims at bashfulness and inadequacy, her writing shows her thoughtfulness, wit, and eye for detail. From her royal position, she used her writing to discuss the state of womanhood in the 17th century and to question everything from marriage to natural philosophy. She addressed criticism directly in her work, and appears to have found a balance between her role as mother and wife, and her role as author and philosopher.

(Compiled by Joey Franklin)

See also

Essays by Margaret Cavendish

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If any take delight to read them [my books], I will not thank them for it: for if anything please them, they are to thank me for so much pleasure.

from A True Relation of My Birth, Breeding, and Life

I am addicted to contemplation.

Of the motion of thoughts in speaking and writing

Women and Fools are taken with Tales; but none but Wits are taken one with another.

Of silence

It is a melancholy conversation that hath no sound.

Some thoughts on poets

Scholars are never good poets, for they incorporate too much into other men, which makes them become less themselves.
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