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Short biography
Anna Maria van Schurmann was born in Cologne, Germany, to a wealthy Dutch-German family and became one of the most learned woman of her time. She received an impressive scholarly education at home, learning to read and converse in 16 contemporary and ancient languages and to play several musical instruments. She also excelled in art and in literature. In 1626, she moved with her mother and aunts to Utrecht, where she was involved in the establishment of the university there. She was the first woman allowed to attend lectures at the University of Utrecht, which did not enroll women, by sitting behind a thick curtain out of sight of the male students. Anna Maria remained unmarried and became a central figure in a group of women scholars. Among other works, she wrote a feminist manifesto, A Friendly Discourse Between Anna Maria van Schurman and and A. Rivetus Concerning the Capacity of Women for Scholarly Pursuits (1638), A Learned Maid (1641), the Latin work Euklerion (Choice of a Better Part, 1684), which was published posthumously, and other verses and letters. Anna Maria also produced delicate engravings by using a diamond on glass. She became expert in sculpture, glassmaking, and the carving of ivory and wood. She also painted portraits.
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