What do the novelists Charlotte Brontë, Rose Macaulay, Dorothy L. Sayers, Elizabeth Goudge, Barbara Pym, Iris Murdoch, Monica Furlong and P.D. James all have in common?
They were all inspired to write fiction through their relationship with the Church of England. But till now no-one has looked at them together, or investigated the ironies and opportunities of their unusual vantage point, intimately involved yet never (till the ordination of women) allowed to be part of the church’s public face.
Yet for all that, they probably did more to shape what Anglicanism felt like, for two hundred years, than any number of bishops. A new book of essays puts that right.
Judith Maltby is co-editor of the book and author of the chapter in it about Rose Macaulay. She is also a historian of Anglican culture, chaplain of Corpus Christi College in Oxford, and helps appoint bishops in her spare time (on the Crown Nominations Commission).
Alison Shell is the other editor and author of the chapter on P D James. She is Professor of English Literature at University College London, and author of ‘Shakespeare and Religion’ among other books.
Jessica Martin is the author of the Dorothy Sayers chapter. A former academic at Cambridge, she is now a Canon of Ely Cathedral and a noted preacher. As a member of the “Littlemore Group” of Anglican theologians working outside universities, she writes about priesthood, contemporary culture and sexuality.
Francis Spufford is the author of the Costa Prize-winning novel ‘Golden Hill’, and was shortlisted for the Michael Ramsey Prize for ‘Unapologetic’, his sweary book of Christian outreach (for which he did several events at Greenbelt in 2012-15). He wrote the summing-up epilogue to this collection.