Juana Inés de la Cruz's accomplishments were many:
- She was a devoutly religious child who hid in the hacienda chapel to read her grandfather's books from the adjoining library, something forbidden to girls. She learned how to read and write at the age of 3. By age 5, she could do accounts, and at age 8 she composed a poem on the Eucharist. By adolescence, she had mastered Greek logic, and at age 13 she was teaching Latin to young children. She also learned the Aztec language of Nahuatl, and she wrote some short poems in that language.
- At age 16, Juana was sent to live in Mexico City. She asked her parents' permission to disguise herself as a male student so that she could enter the university. Not being allowed to do this, she continued her studies privately.
- In 1667, she entered the Convent of the Discalced Carmelites of St. Joseph as a postulant. In 1669, she entered the Convent of the Order of St. Jérôme.
- Juana was widely read in Spain, being called "the Tenth Muse". She was lauded as the first great poet of Latin America. Her work was also printed by the first printing press in Mexico City.
- Juana wrote a letter titled Respuesta a Sor Filotea (Reply to Sister Filotea), in which she defended women's right to education. In response, the Archbishop of Mexico joined other high-ranking officials in condemning Juana's "waywardness."
Juana also wrote a romantic comedy titled "Los empeños de una casa," about a brother and a sister entangled in webs of love, elucidating the themes of love and jealousy. She inquired how these deeply emotional matters shaped and carved a woman's pursuit of liberty, knowledge, education and freedom to live her life in self-sovereignty.
You can read some of Sor Juana's poems here (they are in Spanish and English); not a lot of her work has survived over the years. And you can read more about her life here.