Hildegard von Bingen was a German Benedictine abbess, magistra, composer, healer and author, one of the first female composers whose works are still intact. In an era where few women were allowed or able to read and write, Hildegard wrote songs, poems, theological texts and medicinal guides and even invented her own alphabet.
It's likely that Hildegard would have been forgotten if she hadn't left such an extensive written record of her thoughts and studies. Nearly 80 of her compositions have survived, along with over a hundred letters to statesmen, emperors, saints and popes. Without her extensive writings, we would know almost nothing about her life, but she didn't even begin writing until a vision she received at the age of 42 instructed her to "write down that which you see and hear."