The Allegory of Female Authority
Christine de Pizan's "Cité des Dames"
The first professional female writer, Christine de Pizan (1363-1431) was widowed at age twenty-five and supported herself and her family by enlisting powerful patrons for her poetry. Her Livre de la Cité des Dames (1405) is the earliest European work on women's history by a woman. An allegorical poem that revises masculine traditions, it asserts and defends the authority of women in general and of its author in particular. In this generously illustrated book, Maureen Quilligan provides a persuasive and penetrating interpretation of the Cité.