|About the Book|
This book introduces readers to the life of a Victorian religious community, both within the privacy of the convent and in its work in the wider world, based on documents preserved by the Society of All Saints Sisters of the Poor. It begins by using the memoirs of first-generation members of the community, a colourful and human introduction to the Anglican re-invention of monastic life in the second half of the nineteenth century. The section on government includes the power struggles between the sisters and the religious establishment, and the communitys determination to retain its identity after the death of the mother foundress. The sisters nursed with the newly-formed Red Cross in the Franco-Prussian War, work recorded in a diary which discusses the difficulties and dangers of Victorian front-line nursing. Most of all, the documents reveal the challenges and excitement of the struggle to establish a womens community, to be unfettered in their work with the poor and suffering, and to govern themselves, in a world dominated by men largely hostile to their aspirations. SUSAN MUMM is lecturer in religious studies at the Open University, Milton Keynes.