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Juana Ramírez thirsted for knowledge from her earliest years and throughout her life.

As a female, she had little access to formal education and would be almost entirely self-taught.

Juana was born out of wedlock to a family of modest means in either 1651 or, according to a baptismal certificate, 1648 (there is no scholarly consensus on her birth date). Juana’s mother sent the gifted child to live with relatives in Mexico City.

There her prodigious intelligence attracted the attention of the viceroy, Antonio Sebastián de Toledo, marquis de Mancera.

Her many love poems in the first person show a woman’s (disillusionment) with love, given the strife, pain, jealousy, and loneliness that it occasions.

Other first-person poems have an obvious autobiographical element, dealing with the burdens of fame and intellect.

For her part, Sor Juana, though cloistered, became the unofficial court poet in the 1680s.

Sor Juana also occasionally wrote of her native Mexico.In her convent cell, Sor Juana amassed one of the largest private libraries in the New World, together with a collection of musical and scientific instruments.She was able to continue her contact with other scholars and powerful members of the court.Convent life afforded Sor Juana her own apartment, time to study and write, and the opportunity to teach music and drama to the girls in Santa Paula’s school.She also functioned as the convent’s archivist and accountant.All of the nun’s poetry, however densely Baroque, exhibits her characteristically tight logic.

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