Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz
Juana Inés Ramírez was born in Mexico in 1648. Raised by her maternal grandparents, Juana learned to read at age three and was soon known as a prodigy. As a teenager, she went to the Mexico City court as a maid-in-waiting; Juana continued her life of scholarship and wrote poetry and sonnets.
In 1668 she entered the Convent of the Order of St. Jerome where she spent the rest of her life as Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz. She was a teacher, but also continued to engage in her own intellectual scholarship, studying Latin, theology, natural science. She soon collected enough books to have the largest library in North America. Her cell functioned as a salon for Mexican intellectuals. She wrote poetry and plays, but when she wrote a theological criticism of a priest's work, the current Archbishop launched an attack on her. Sor Juana countered, writing of wome's right to theological education. The Archbishop demanded she renounce her life of scholarship. She was forced to sell her 4,000 books and other possessions.
Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz died on April 17, 1695 at the age of forty-six during a plague epidemic.