Maude Royden was a suffragist, socialist, pacifist, lay preacher and campaigner for the ordination of women. She made her name before the Great War as the most eloquent speaker in the non-militant suffrage body, the NUWSS. Trying at best to fulfil her vocation as a preacher, if not as a priest, she worked for many years as a minister with her own congregation and her own church. This book charts the life and career of Maude Royden, highlighting the complex interplay between feminism and religion in turn-of-the-century Britain. Sheila Fletcher traces the developments of religious thought from her early life and time at Oxford to her emergence as the leading advocate of women's ordination. An Anglican possessed of deep religious conviction, she felt the priesthood to be her calling, and believed passionately in priesthood for women. Forced to make her international reputation as a preacher to the Free Church in London's Guildhouse, Royden castigated the Bishops for denying spiritual equality to women as well as men. Her private life was equally unusual and colourful: for more than 40 years she maintained a both passionate and platonic relationship with Hudson Shaw, a married clergyman, and a close friendship with his wife. Only after her death, did Shaw and Royden marry, only weeks before Shaw's own death at the age of 85. This book chronicles the opening of the struggle for women's ordination.
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