The daughter of Kiyohara no Motosuke, one of the “Five men of the Pear Chamber” accredited with compiling the readings for the oldest collection of Japanese poetry in existence, the Man'yōshū.
A woman who lived in a society revolved around men, however, through her own power and initiative she was able to show the world her amazing talent. She stayed close by the side of Empress Teishi who was the wife of Emperor Ichijō until Teishi's passing. After the Empress’ death, her musings and observations of court life surrounding Teishi were compiled into a book called “The Pillow Book”.
An author and poet of the Heian period (794 - 1185) in Japan.
Being an oddity during this period in Japan, Sei Shōnagon was well versed in reading Chinese characters and the world of Chinese poetry.
There are many stories passed down through the ages of her using her vast knowledge to go head to head with the men of the time in debates and intellectual discussions.
For a woman of this time, she was clearly not run-of-the-mill.
From "The Diary of Lady Murasaki Shikibu” we can see how Murasaki Shikibu clearly kept the existence of Sei Shōnagon in her mind.
As a lady of the court she began to serve Teishi in the later part of her 20s. The young Teishi came to deeply care for Sei Shōnagon and in return she loyally served the beautiful and bright Teishi, without betraying any of her expectations.
She would enthusiastically write about the going ons of the royal court where she lived, later these writings were compiled into a Zuihitsu book. This would turn out to be Japan’s first collection of essays “The Pillow Book”.
As soon as you think she’s always running around having a blast in a great mood, you notice that there are times where she suddenly feels down. Similar to a cat she can be fickle to her surroundings, however, for the most part she focuses on having fun more than anything else. She’s a party girl servant. Sei Shōnagon was a girl that was ahead of the times and lit up her surroundings while musing about her love for the beauty of things around her.