Autobiographical Writings by Early Quaker Women  book cover
1st Edition

Autobiographical Writings by Early Quaker Women

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ISBN 9780754607533
Published October 21, 2004 by Routledge
230 Pages

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Book Description

While writings by early modern Quaker women have been discussed and quoted fairly extensively, relatively few of their texts are readily or widely available. The chief purpose of this edition is to rectify this state of affairs in one central area - that of autobiographical writing. The edition contains substantial excerpts from a range of self-writings by Quaker women, composed between the 1650s and circa 1710: letters, testimonies, memoirs, accounts of spiritual development, narratives of persecution and imprisonment. Six of the texts have been freshly edited from manuscripts (including Mary Penington's A Brief Account); the others have been transcribed from the first printed editions. In his general introduction to the volume, the editor sketches the history of the Quaker movement from the 1650s to the early 1700s, and considers the role of female Quakers during the first and second phases of the movement. The introduction also surveys the types and purposes of autobiographical writings produced by female Friends, and relates these writings to key Quaker ideas, concerns and practices regarding the inner light, scripture, testimony, plain speaking, friendship, gender and community. Booy indicates the wider context of the development of autobiographical writing during the seventeenth century, and discusses briefly issues to do with the construction of the self in writing. Each text is prefaced by a substantial headnote providing biographical and historical information. Footnotes supply biblical and other references, and gloss unfamiliar or specialist vocabulary. The volume includes a comprehensive bibliography of primary and secondary materials. The edition is aimed at all those interested in the history of the Quakers, whether they be scholars in the fields of religious, cultural and women's studies, or of history and literature generally.

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Glossary; Introduction: openings in the light; Katharine Evans and Sarah Cheevers: A true account of the great tryals and cruel sufferings (excerpt); Elizabeth Hooton: an account of her experiences during her visits to New England,1661 and 1663-65/6; Mary Penington: A brief account of some of my Exercise from my Childhood; 'Testimony concerning her dear husband' (excerpt); A Letter from me, to my Dear Grandchild Springet Penn (excerpt); Alice Curwen: A relation of the labour, travail and suffering (excerpt); Elizabeth Andrews: An account of the birth, and education, with the services and sufferings for the truth's sake (excerpt); Elizabeth Stirredge: Strength in weakness manifest (excerpt); Margaret Fell: A relation of Margaret Fell (excerpt); 'The testimony...concerning...George Fox' (excerpt); The examination and trial of Margaret Fell (excerpt); Anne Docwra: An apostate-conscience exposed (excerpt); Alice Hayes: A legacy, or widow's mite (excerpt); Elizabeth Webb: A Anthony William Boehm (excerpt); James Dickinson and Jane Fearon: 'A Memorable Instance of Divine Guidance and Protection'; References and selected further reading; References to Books of the Bible; Index.

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David Booy was Senior Lecturer in English at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK.


'This collection includes excerpts from eleven women, many of which have not been published 'in modern times'. They have all been freshly edited and have been provided with footnotes for those unfamiliar with common biblical references or 17th century English vocabulary... The remaining eight documents, some of which have been unavailable outside of specialized libraries, are a delight to have... this book can be of great interest to a discerning Quaker reader, even if that was not the primary purpose of the author.' Friends Journal '... useful and illuminating providing an accessible source of varied texts for learning to read early modern self-writings.' Quaker Studies