Flesh and Spirit

An anthology of seventeenth-century women's writing

Edited by Rachel Adcock, Sara Read and Anna Ziomek

Flesh and Spirit


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-1100-5
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Published Date: May 2016
  • BIC Category: Literature, Anthologies: general, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Women's Studies, LITERARY COLLECTIONS / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Society & social sciences / Gender studies: women, Literature & literary studies / Anthologies (non-poetry)


This anthology makes accessible to readers ten little-known and under-studied works by seventeenth-century women (edited from manuscript and print) that explore the relationship between spiritual and physical health in the period. Providing a detailed and engaging introduction to the issues confronted when studying women's writing from this era, the anthology also examines female interpretations of illness, exploring beliefs that toothache and miscarriage could be God's punishments, but also, paradoxically, that such terrible suffering could be understood as proof that a believer was eternally beloved.

The extracts in the anthology explore how illness was an important part of women's religious conversion, often confirming religious belief, but also how women could advise others about their physical and spiritual health in manuscript and print. The anthology includes a thorough introduction to the period's medical and religious beliefs, as well as an introduction to contemporary ideas about women's physical and spiritual make up. Each of the ten extracts also has its own preface, highlighting relevant contexts and further reading, and is fully annotated.


1. The dialogue between flesh and spirit
2. Sin and childbirth
3. Signs of the times
4. Conversion and cure
5. Advising on body and spirit: women's writing
6. Note on the presentation of the texts
7. Chronology
8. Conversion exemplified
9. Lady Mary Carey, meditations and poetry (1647-57)
10. Elizabeth Major, honey on the rod (1656)
11. Gertrude More, the holy practices of a divine lover and the spiritual exercises (1657)
12. Advising on body and spirit
13. Elizabeth Clinton, the countess of Lincoln's nursery (1622)
14. Brilliana, Lady Harley, commonplace book (1622) and letters (1625-43)
15. 'Eliza', Eliza's babes (1652)
16. Anonymous, conversion exemplified (1663)
17. Conversion and cure
18. Lady Elizabeth Delaval, meditations and prayers (1662-71)
19. Katherine Sutton, a christian woman's experiences (1663)
20. Hannah Allen, a narrative of God's gracious dealings (1683)


Rachel Adcock, Sara Read and Anna Ziomek all teach in the School of Arts, English and Drama at Loughborough University

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