Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 263171
Loughborough University

Enterprise Awards 2013

Cultural Impact

An illustration of quaker women

Seventeenth-century Quaker women in the twenty-first century

Academic expertise
English and Drama
Academics
Professor Elaine Hobby and Dr Catie Gill

Since its beginnings in the 1650s, the Quaker movement has held progressive views on women. Eleven of the first sixty itinerant Quaker preachers were women and the act of ministry – speaking during a Quaker meeting – has always been an equal prerogative.

However, although they were very active during the early years of the movement, Quaker women were widely perceived to be helpmeets rather than influential reformists.  And within the Quaker movement, some resented the power of women within the community.  Samuel Johnson’s opinion of a female Quaker preacher in James Boswell’s Biography of Samuel Johnson reflects this view: "Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all."

Well over a decade’s research by Catie Gill and Elaine Hobby has challenged this perception and demonstrated that women were not only important activists from the start, but also key theorists of the Quaker movement.

The researchers have published extensively to critical acclaim and their work is much cited in subsequent research on early Quaker writings.  But their work has gone much further through engagement with Woodbrooke, Europe’s only Quaker Study Centre, and subsequently the Kindlers, to ensure that the early writing of Quaker women has reach and significance beyond the academic world.

Impact

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