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Margaret Beaufort

  By Lindsay Smith Margaret Beaufort (1443[1]-1509) Born in Bedfordshire, England, Beaufort was the daughter of Margaret Beauchamp and John Beaufort, first Duke of Somerset. At her father’s death, possibly a suicide after being accused of treason, she became the heir to his fortune.[2] When Beaufort was six years old she was married to John de…

Helene Schweitzer Bresslau

Helene Schweitzer Bresslau (1879—1957): Albert Schweitzer’s Wife, Colleague, and “Most Loyal Friend” by Patti M. Marxsen From Berlin to Strasbourg Helene Schweitzer Bresslau was born in Berlin in 1879 to a cultivated family of assimilated Jews. She grew up with two brothers, Hermann and Ernst, as well as the younger sister and brothers of her…

Basine

  by Koren Whipp Basine, or Basina (c. 438 -77 CE) Childeric I , King of the Salian Franks, was driven from his kingdom and sought refuge with the king of Thuringia, King Bisinus . While in exile, Basine, the wife of King Bisinus, either “conceived a passion for” or was “seduced” by Childeric.[1]  When Childeric…

Antoinette Bourignon

by Veronica Cassidy Antoinette Bourignon (1616-1680) was born January 13th, 1616, to a Flemish family in Lille, France. At a time when established religions did not allow women leaders, Bourignon became one of a number of prominent female theologists – among them, Anna Maria van Schurman, with whom Bourignon exchanged letters. Bourignon claimed variously to…

Juliana Berners

  by Sam Greenberg Juliana Berners [Bernes, Barnes, Barne] (d. c. 1460) cannot be authoritatively identified.[1] She may have been the prioress of Sopwell nunnery near St Albans in Hertfordshire, England, and the daughter of Sir James Berners of Essex .[2] The Book of St Albans, an early example of vernacular English provincial writing on practical…

Boadicea

by Gina Luria Walker Boadicea (or Boudicca) d. 60 or 61 was a queen of the Brittonic Iceni tribe (now East Anglia).  Her husband, Prasutagus, ruled the Iceni and was a staunch ally of Rome.  When he died, he left his kingdom jointly to his daughters and the Roman Emperor, but his will was ignored. Boudicea…

Mary Beale

by Koren Whipp Mary Beale 1632-99 was one of the most important portrait painters of 17th century England and has been described as the first professional female English painter.  Beale was also celebrated for her poetical talents; versions of her psalms are included in A Paraphrase upon the Psalms of David (1667) by Dr. Samuel…

Laura Battiferri Ammannati

  by Elizabeth A. Pallitto Laura Battiferri Ammannati (1523-1589) Born in Urbino, the illegitimate child of a nobleman, Giovanni Antonio Battiferri, and a concubine, Maddelena Coccapani of Capri, Laura was nonetheless given a decent education. She married Vittorio Sereni, then, after her died, remarried the Florentine sculptor Bartolomeo Ammannati. In 1560 she published Primo libro…

Aphra Behn

  by Lindsay Smith Aphra Behn (c. 1640-89) Born in Harbledown, England, the details of Behn’s early life are unclear.[1] She may have been born to a barber and his wife[2] but there are also accounts that her father was a military man who was appointed Lieutenant-general of Surinam. [3] Some scholars of her work…

Ann Baynard

  by Penelope Whitworth Ann Baynard (1672/3–97) Born in Preston, Lancashire, England.  As a child she was educated by her father Edward Baynard in science, mathematics, philosophy, and classical languages and literature. By her early twenties, she had become a ‘subtle disputant’ in the ‘hard and knotty Arguments of Metaphysical Learning.’ [1] She perfected her knowledge…

Anne Bacon

by Penelope Whitworth Anne, Lady Bacon, [née Cooke] (c. 1528–1610) Probably born at Gidea Hall, Essex, England. Educated in the classical languages and the early church fathers with her brothers and sisters at home by her father Sir Anthony Cooke.  Cooke was one of several humanist educators employed by Queen Katherine Parr to tutor Henry VIII’s children…

Laura Bassi

by Gina Luria Walker Laura Bassi (1711–1778) Laura Bassi’s achievements as experimental scientist, professor, wife, and mother were unprecedented, even in 18th Century Italy which enjoyed a unique tradition of learned women.  Bassi was unusual in being from a middleclass family. She was educated at home by a male tutor who provided traditional training in…

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