Judith Sargent Murray
(1751 - 1820)
Born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, in 1751, Judith Sargent Murray was a writer and an early advocate for women’s rights. Her essay “On the Equality of the Sexes” predates by a year Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. “I am aware that there are many passages” in the Bible, she writes in the essay, “which seem to give the advantage to the other sex; but I consider all these as wholly metaphorical…Listen to the curses which Job bestoweth upon the day of his nativity, and tell me where is his perfection, where his patience–literally it existed not.” In 1794 a new theater in Boston put out a call for plays by American writers. Murray, under a pseudonym implying male authorship, submitted The Medium, or Virtue Triumphant. It was produced a year later, the first work by an American to appear on a Boston stage. Her second play, The Traveler Returned, appeared the following year.