"It seems to me debilitating for a Catholic not to know everything in this life of the Divine Mysteries that can be learned through natural means."
-Juana Inés de la Cruz
Juana was born in 1651 in Mexico. When she was only 3, she convinced a teacher to give her reading lessons, yet her mother found out and had them stopped. However, by age 6, Juana could read all the literature in her grandfather's library. When she was 10, her grandfather died, and she had to go live with her aunt and uncle. Her aunt and uncle hired a Latin scholar for Juana, but after ten or eleven lessons, Juana surpassed what the scholar could teach her and continued learning by herself.
When Juana was a teenager, she met Mexico's governor and he was so impressed by her that she was allowed to stay at his house as a servant. While there, Juana read many of the Spanish novels coming from Spain and when she attended the governor's parties, she met many important people. She also wrote poems, and her written plays were performed at the governor's palace.
Juana chose, reluctantly, to join a convent after the governor's time in power ended, for she did not want to marry. However, the convent horrified her so much that she left that place and tried another. This one fit Juana's interests, as it had servants and gave her lots of free time. She took her vows and stayed there. She spent most of her free time writing books, most of which became Spanish bestsellers. Yet, her writing was very much criticized by the clergy, particularly by archbishop Francisco de Aguiar, a man who had great mysogyny (hatred of women).
Soon after, Juana was tricked into having her argument about a sermon published, and she was put in danger of being sentenced by the Inquistion. A few months later, she wrote what is usually considered her best work: La Respuesta. This work argues that women needed an education and outlined a way how it could be done.
Near the end of her life, Juana gave up writing. She died in 1695 while caring for her sisters who had contracted the plague. She was one of the greatest playwrights and poets of her time, and she was the first person on her continent to argue verbally through writing for a woman's right to an education.