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Mary Astell

by Howay The Lasses

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After a tribute to her was unveiled at Amen Corner next to Newcastle Cathedral in March 2023, Howay The Lasses have written a new song based on early feminist writer Mary Astell’s book “A Serious Proposal to the Ladies”. Mary was born in Newcastle Upon Tyne in 1666. The song centres around her quote “If all men are born free, how is that all women are born slaves ?”. The quote is taken directly from the book and also features on Mary’s new commemorative plaque. It reflects both the obstacles facing women in Mary’s time but also urgent contemporary issues faced by women in places like Afghanistan and in regard to modern day people trafficking and slavery.


Mary Astell

A serious proposal
To the ladies I will bring
To advance their true and greatest interest there must be
More voices rising up
Asking questions why ?

If all men are born free
How is it that all women are born slaves ?

No time for men whose actions
Do not match their words
In intellect we’re equals, all of us should learn
But I hear it in these sorrowed homes I see it in their lives

If all men are born free
How is it that all women are born slaves ?

Ingenious lady, judicious ideas
That’s what they said, then forgot me for years

Now at Amen Corner
My tribute it contains
The greater truth that still some barriers remain
For love is patient, love is kind
But in some corners we are still so blind


released September 15, 2023
Words & Music : Gareth Davies-Jones 2023
Copyright © Gareth Davies-Jones 2023
Arranged & Performed by Howay The Lasses


all rights reserved



Howay The Lasses Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK

The North East of England is rich with the discoveries, achievements and successes of women from all strands of life - from writers, and reformers, to animators and engineers. Some stories are known to a degree - others not at all. Musicians Annie Ball, Katie Tertell, Bronwen Davies-Jones and Gareth Davies-Jones have teamed up on "Howay The Lasses" to tell them out loud through original song. ... more

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