Juana Ines de la Cruz

Author: Juana Ines de la Cruz

Profile: Juana Inés de la Cruz was a Mexican poet, philosopher, nun, musician, writer and composer of the Baroque period. She was born in San Miguel Nepantla, New Spain and died in Mexico City, New Spain. She has been part of the Baroque Literary Movement. Some of her most notable works include, Carta Atenagorica, First Dream, Pawns of a House and Satira Filosofica.

Juana Ines de la Cruz has been described as a flame that rose from the ashes of ‘religious authoritarianism’. Due to her nature of giving outspoken opinions, she was bestowed by names like ‘The Phoenix of Mexico’ and ‘The Tenth Muse’ for her entire lifetime. She has been the Hieronymite nun of New Spain (Mexico). Juana contributed to both the broader literature of the Spanish Golden Age and to early Spanish literature.

At a very young age she started her studies, gained fluency in Latin, wrote in Nahuatl and became known for her philosophy during her teenage years. It was from her own library which she inherited from her grandfather that she educated herself. She converted the quarters for nuns into a salon which intellectual elite from the city visited. The Bishop of Puebla condemned her for her criticism of hypocrisy of men and misogyny. She was left with no choice but to sell her books collection and dedicate time towards charity for the poor, in the year 1694. While treating her plague inflicted sister, Juana too caught the plague and died. In the modern times, her importance was re-established by Octavio Paz as for hundreds of years, she had faded from academic discourse. She is interpreted as a proto-feminist now by scholars and is the subject of vibrant discourses about various themes like education rights, writing, colonialism, women’s religious authority as examples of feminist advocacy.

Writing style: In 1667 Juana Ines de la Cruz joined a nunnery and started writing prose and poetry dealing with topics ranging from religion, feminism and love.


Published Texts:


First Dream (a poetic form combining verses of 7 and 11 syllables)


Pawns of a House

Love is But a Labyrinth


The analysis of music and study of musical temperament appears in many of her poems

Attributed to Juana is one musical work from the archive of Guatemala Cathedral, which is a 4-part villancico, Madre, la de los primores

Awards and Acknowledgements:

Juana Ines de la Cruz is a national icon of Mexico and Mexican identity, her image adorns Mexican currency and her former cloister is a centre for higher education

In the late 20th century she gained new prominence as the first published feminist of the New World and most outstanding writer of the Spanish American colonial period for her rising interest in women’s writing and feminism

She has been the inspiration for authors of poetry, plays, opera and literary fiction as well as film makers.

Her life is dramatized by the Spanish-language miniseries, Juana Ines (2016) by Canal Once TV

In 1962, a telenovela about her life was created

In 1992 a dramatic verse play, Reverse Thunder, was written by Diane Ackerman

A number of works related to her were produced by Jesusa Rodriguez.

Twelve years were devoted by Paul Anderson the Canadian novelist in writing a 1300 page novel (Hunger’s Brides) on Sor Juana which won the Alberta Book Award in 2005

Her 366th birthday was commemorated by Google Doodle on November 12, 2017

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