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Born in 1623 as the youngest child of a wealthy Essex family, Margaret Cavendish became a Maid of Honour to Queen Henrietta Maria before going on to marry the widowed William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle. She was a prolific writer whose work encompassed a range of genres including poetry, moral tales, romance, scientific treatises, philosophy, drama and biography. Pepys wrote of her: ‘The whole story of this Lady is a romance, and all she doth is romantic’.
The Blazing World is part fiction and part feminist text in which a lady is shipwrecked and seeks to ensure that the Blazing World in which she finds herself is transformed into a Utopia – free of war, sexual discrimination and religious discord. It is a fascinating and extravagant combination of what the author herself calls ‘romancical’, ‘philosophical’ and ‘fantastical’.