Was Margaret Cavendish a time traveler? The 17th Century Duchess was more like a 21st Century person; a feminist, animal liberationist and sci-fi writer. Infuriatingly, we don’t know her birthtime. I am joking about the time travel. Lots of women did not have their birth dates recorded in that era. They were not considered important enough. But really, she was enough of an outlier to have come from the future.
In the 17th Century, Margaret Cavendish, the Duchess of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, was charging around being a feminist, an animal rights advocate and science fiction writer. She was insanely ahead of her time and even if we argue that aristocrats of the era had more power/options than the average woman, the Duchess was still bucking an incredibly staid system.
Why Isn’t Margaret Cavendish The Subject Of A Film?
The Duchess published over 20 books, including poetry, philosophy, and critiques of the social structures of the day. She ranted against the marriage paradigm that stripped away the individuality of females. Though this led to her being banned from the drawing rooms of polite society, she was probably relieved. But she is most renowned for her science fiction novel.
From Atlas Obscura:
But amid her poetry and essays, she also published one of the earliest examples of science fiction. In 1666. She named it The Description of a New World, Called the Blazing World.
In the story, a woman is kidnapped by a lovesick merchant sailor, and forced to join him at sea. After a windstorm sends the ship north and kills the men, the woman walks through a portal at the North Pole into a new world: one with stars so bright, midnight could be mistaken for midday. A parallel universe where creatures are sentient, and worm-men, ape-men, fish-men, bird-men and lice-men populate the planet. They speak one language, they worship one god, and they have no wars. She becomes their Empress, and with her otherworldly subjects, she explores natural wonders and questions their observations using science.
And Cavendish starts it all by addressing the women in the audience. “To all Noble and Worthy Ladies,” she begins, and lets us know about the strange trip in store for them:
“The First Part is Romancical; the Second, Philosophical; and the Third is meerly Fancy; or (as I may call it) Fantastical. And if (Noble Ladies) you should chance to take pleasure in reading these Fancies, I shall account my self a Happy Creatoress: If not, I must be content to live a Melancholly Life in my own World, which I cannot call a Poor World, if Poverty be only want of Gold, and Jewels: for, there is more Gold in it, than all the Chymists ever made; or, (as I verily believe) will ever be able to make.”
She Wrote About Parallel Universes In The 1600s
Given that she crafted such a unique life for her self in such turbulent times, it would be fascinating to see her birth chart.
One clue: In her memoir, Cavendish expresses that she enjoyed inventing herself through fashion. She states that she aimed for uniqueness in her dress, thoughts, and behavior, and remarks that she disliked wearing the same fashions as other women. She also expresses her desire to achieve fame.
And, I would rather die in the adventure of noble achievements than live in obscure and sluggish security. Leo? Sagittarius?