The Essay is written in the form of a letter to a female friend. It purports to be inspired by a conversation between several gentlemen and ladies. Drake first constructed the rationalist framework used at that time to explain women's intellectual inferiority, especially using John Locke's An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. She then proceeded to show that this rationale was outdated, and in this modern time, women would value from a greater knowledge. Only two works using this kind of rationalist argument had been used for a feminist argument before, and only one of those was in English. Besides her rational arguments, Drake also wrote sketches of various stereotypes among men: the Pedant, the Country Squire, the News-monger, the Bully, the City-Critick, and the Beau. She uses these pictures to remind her readers that men, also, had follies.
Judith Drake (fl. 1696–1707) was an English intellectual and author who was active in the last decade of the 17th century. She was part of a circle of intellectuals, authors, and philosophers which included Mary Astell, Lady Mary Chudleigh, Elizabeth Thomas, Elizabeth Elstob, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, and John Norris. She was married to James Drake F.R.S., physician and Tory pamphleteer. She is remembered in the field of feminist literature for her 1696 essay, An Essay in Defence of the Female Sex.