An Essay in Defence of the Female Sex

Judith Drake

An Essay in Defence of the Female Sex, by Judith Drake - click to see full size image

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An Essay in Defence of the Female Sex is an essay by English author Judith Drake, first published in 1696. Drake was one of a number of women who took advantage of a less strict censorship on printed books in the seventeenth century, to write and publish their own material. The full title of the essay is 'An Essay in Defence of the Female Sex, In Which are Inserted the Characters of a Pendant, a Squire, a Beau, a Vertuoso, a Poetaster, a City-Critick, etc'. When it was first published, it wasn't published under Drake's name - the author was just listed as 'a Lady'. For many years, it was thought that the essay was written by Mary Astell who had herself written works on the female sex. Written in the form of a letter, Drake first explains to us the logic at the time that 'proved' that women were inferior on an intellectual level. She then goes on to discuss how this is outdated and shows how women would benefit from easier access to knowledge. Drake also mentions scientific evidence of the day that showed there were no physical differences between men and women that would lead to women being intellectually inferior. Writing at a time when women had few rights, she was of course criticised by some prominent people, including satirist Jonathan Swift.

This book has 29,183 words, 41 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published in 1696.

Production notes: This ebook of An Essay in Defence of the Female Sex was published by Global Grey in 2021, and updated on the 6th January 2024. The artwork used for the cover is 'The Girl I Left Behind Me' by Eastman Johnson.

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