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.