Christine de Pizan
Born to a prominent family in Italy circa 1364, Christine de Pizan moved to Paris as a child where she received a good education thanks to her father, which was unusual for that time for girls. She married at the age of fifteen but was a widow at twenty-five. Christine wrote poetry after the death of her husband in 1389 as a way to support her three children.
Her transition from courtly poetry to more serious subjects was evident in The Letter of Othea the Goddess that highlights the legacies of wise women from history and myth and begins to develop the theme of the intrinsic worth of women. She devoted most of her life to rigorous study, and is considered the first professional woman writer in Europe, as well as the first woman publisher and the first woman of letters in France.
Her most famous work was also her most eloquent defense of women, A Book of the City of Ladies, in 1405. Christine challenged the prevailing misogynist arguments of the day among men that women were inferior. She also argued for equal education of women and that they are capable of learning law and science and should become warriors, artists, inventors and teachers.
The date and place of Christine’s death is not known but it is believed to be in 1430 or 1431. She is included in two important books about French women authors published in 1786 and 1838, and she continues to fascinate readers and scholars in the twenty-first century.
Christine is revered as the first woman to write about Western women’s history.