This note accompanies the follow episode(s):
The Writer’s Almanac for August 16, 2017: all that

August 16, 2017: birthday: Catharine Trotter Cockburn

Today is the birthday of English philosopher and playwright Catharine Trotter Cockburn (1679) (books by this author), born in London. Not much is known of her childhood, except that her father, a sea captain, died of the plague when Catharine was four, and the family struggled to get by. She was a precocious child and taught herself to read and write at an early age. Her first novel, Adventures of a Young Lady (1693), was published anonymously when she was 14. She also learned French and Latin, and was a moderately successful playwright; her first play, Agnes de Castro, was produced when she was just 16, and she wrote and staged four more in the next few years. When she wasn’t writing plays, she was reading philosophy, mostly the work of John Locke. She published her first philosophical essay, The Defence of Mr. Lock’s [sic] Essay of Human Understanding (1702), at the age of 23, and Locke was so impressed that he sent her money and books. She married clergyman Patrick Cockburn in 1708, and gave up writing until 1726. She went on to publish two more works of moral philosophy; these, along with her letters, were published as her collected works after her death in 1749.