Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Edith O' Gorman - "The Escaped Nun"

Ok, so this isn't a gardening post but please allow me to indulge myself. A few years ago, I was browsing copies of the Rossendale Free Press when I came across and entry about a woman called Edith O'Gorman, "The Escaped Nun", whose visit to Rossendale had been cancelled for fear of public disorder.

A few internet searches later and I found her story interesting. An Irish emigrant to the US in the mid nineteenth century, she entered a convent which she left, allegedly after an attempted rape, became a protestant and embarked on an international lecture and book tour about her experiences. She was a Victorian celebrity and very controversial at the time. I followed her around the UK, spending several hours in the British Library and more in the local Bolton library, where I found some excellent accounts of her lectures which have never been seen since they were written. She moved to England and is buried in the cemetery in West Norwood, London, with her husband.

She was an opinionated, strong woman, unusual for her time, who lived on her own earnings. I kind of respected her for that, but she also showed a tendency to reinterpret her life and modesty wasn't one of her qualities. She deliberately stirred up controversy and even violence wherever she went, not a woman anyone could ignore! Today she is sometimes studied in feminist academia, and in discussions of Victorian religious opinions and violence.

So I decided to write a short book about her. In it I summarise her own story, with lots of extracts of her own writing, a short chapter about the religious context in England at the time, and contemporary accounts of her lectures, mostly from England but also some from the US. Her book is still available in second hand book stores, in various editions (I have a copy of the first edition and one of the 37th, in the 1920s - she died in 1929), and online.

I published this myself on Lulu.com and the book is available as print on demand for £6.00 plus P&P. I should say the cover is slightly different now to the example above. If you're interested in this kind of history, here's a link:

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

It's also available as a PDF download.

Ok, that's the marketing over and done with. Thanks for bearing with me. Back to the gardening tomorrow...
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