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Biographies Unit Biographies

Juana Inés de la Cruz (Sister Juana) 1648-1695
Poet and Playwright

Juana Inés de la Cruz was one of New Spain's most remarkable women. Born near Mexico City, she showed an early love of learning. She persuaded her sisters' teacher to teach her to read when she was three. By the age of ten, she was writing poetry and teaching herself Latin.

De la Cruz moved to Mexico City, where she became known for her brilliance. She became a personal maid to the wife of the Viceroy of New Spain. She was a favorite at the royal court, often impressing visitors with her learning.

In 1669, de la Cruz joined a convent, which is a religious home for Catholic women. There, she wrote poems and plays and taught music and drama to girls. Her fame spread to Spain, where her poetry was popular. De la Cruz also wrote about the right of women to be educated. She was the first person in the Americas to express this opinion in writing. Today, Latin Americans often refer to this talented and strong woman as Sor Juana, which means Sister Juana in English.

Comprehension Check

What right did de la Cruz think women should have?

Critical Thinking

What character traits would you use to describe Juana Inés de la Cruz? Explain your answer.