Margaret Cavendish was the first English woman to write specifically for publicationand to consider herself primarily a writer. She cloaked her crippling shyness inextravagant dress and an exotic public persona. A feminist long before her time, she believed in sexual equality, criticised the role that society assigned to women and even questioned the institution of marriage. Although she, like virtually all women ofher time, had little formal education, she wrote, with atrocious spelling, stories, poems, essays, 'fancies’ and scientific and philosophical treatises. So controversial was her reputation that when she visited London crowds lined thestreets to watch her pass. She was a solitary, gifted and outlandish figure. .
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