“Feminism, History and Movements of the Soul: Christian Science in the Life of Alice Clark (1874–1934)”
Holton, Sandra Stanley. “Feminism, History and Movements of the Soul: Christian Science in the Life of Alice Clark (1874–1934).” Australian Feminist Studies 13, no. 28 (1998): 281–94.
Holton explores how Alice Clark, a British suffragist and historian of women, was influenced by her later affiliation with Christian Science. Clark’s earlier Quaker sensibilities were tied closely to political activism. However, her desire to have “an effect on the world” (287) was “shadowed by the threat of tuberculosis from childhood” (284). Her frailty, combined with the disillusionment resulting from WWI and its aftermath, drove her spiritual search. In Christian Science, Clark found a synthesis of her “Quaker belief in the ‘Light within’ [with] a gender identity that rejected the dominance in a male-governed world of the power of reason” (286), and the corresponding value of the feminine for impacting world affairs. It is “Love [that] creates an organic whole” (286) with its practical healing outcome. In Christian Science, she sought to retrieve her health in order to live productively. Clark did “enjoy a period of wellbeing in the years that followed” (289). However, she would lose interest in political activism, except for local issues affecting women. Clark eventually succumbed to tuberculosis. Jan Smuts, a South African soldier, statesman and dear friend, would write: “her battle of the spirit against disease is one of the most heroic things I have ever seen” (291).
Print ISSN: 0816-4649