Women in the Seventeenth-Century Quaker Community: A Literary Study of Political Identities, 1650–1700, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Women in the Seventeenth-Century Quaker Community

A Literary Study of Political Identities, 1650–1700, 1st Edition

By Catie Gill


256 pages

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Focussing on Quaker pamphlet literature of the commonwealth and restoration period, Catie Gill seeks to explore and explain women’s presence as activists, writers, and subjects within the early Quaker movement. Women in the Seventeenth-Century Quaker Community draws on contemporary resources such as prophetic writing, prison narratives, petitions, and deathbed testimonies to produce an account of women’s involvement in the shaping of this religious movement. The book reveals that, far from being of marginal importance, women were able to exploit the terms in which Quaker identity was constructed to create roles for themselves, in public and in print, that emphasised their engagement with Friends’ religious and political agenda. Gill’s evidence suggests that women were able to mobilise contemporary notions of femininity when pursuing active roles as prophets, martyrs, mothers, and political activists. The book’s focus on collective, Quaker identities, which arises from its analysis of multiple-authored texts, is key to its claims that gender issues have to be considered when analysing the sect’s emergent system of values, and Gill assesses the representation of women in male-authored texts in addition to female writers’ attitudes to agency. A bibliography that, for the first time, lists men and women’s involvement as contributors as well as authors to Quaker pamphlets provides a valuable resource for scholars of seventeenth-century radicalism.


'… makes a truly original contribution to the field of women's writing by situating Quaker women's authorship fully in its historical and bibliographical context; Gill’s work is evidence based and historically grounded, and advances carefully nuanced readings of the textual representation of sex differences. Particularly impressive is her astute analysis of print as an agent of identity and her thoughtful analysis of varied kinds of strategies of authorship. Her concentration on the 1650s enables us to see the emergence of a specific group and the struggles over authority, representation and gender that this entails.' Dr Danielle E. Clarke, Senior Lecturer in English, University College Dublin 'This carefully focused study augments prior scholarship on early modern women writers and on the copiously publishing Society of Friends… Especially helpful to other scholars will be the extensive bibliography of Quaker publications, with cross-referencing for each contributor to collectively authored texts and notations about signers of petitions. Gill's attention to women printers and to the material conditions of the book trade is also of particular value.' Renaissance Quarterly 'This is a book which genuinely moves our understanding of Quaker writings in general and women's writings in particular a step further… An extensive cross-referenced bibliography is provided which lists men and women's involvement as contributors as well as authors to Quaker pamphlets, itself a valuable resource for further research. The scholarship is rigorous, the writing is elegant and this is a book that will be both enjoyed and appreciated by historians, literary critics and scholars in seventeenth-century radicalism.' Quaker Studies '… this book offers an engaging introduction to the ways in which women wrote as Quakers and their unique contribution to 'writing in the community'.' Early Modern Literary Studies ’… a good introduction to the contributions of women to Quak

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Quakerism in the 1650s; Prisoners; Petitioners; Prophets; Domestic identities in post-restoration Quaker writing; Conclusion; Appendix; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Catie Gill works in the Department of English and Drama at Loughborough University, UK.

About the Series

Women and Gender in the Early Modern World

Women and Gender in the Early Modern World
The study of women and gender offers some of the most vital and innovative challenges to current scholarship on the early modern period. For more than a decade now, Women and Gender in the Early Modern World has served as a forum for presenting fresh ideas and original approaches to the field. Interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary in scope, this Routledge series strives to reach beyond geographical limitations to explore the experiences of early modern women and the nature of gender in Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa. We welcome proposals for both single-author volumes and edited collections which expand and develop this continually evolving field of study.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Comparative Literature