Ann the Word: The Story of Ann Lee, Female Messiah, Mother of the Shakers, The Woman Clothed with the Sun (biography)
(London: Fourth Estate, 2000; New York: Arcade, 2001; Penguin: New York, 2002)
Ann Lee was one of the most extraordinary and mysterious women in the history of western culture – probably the most influential artisan woman since Joan of Arc. The illiterate daughter of a Manchester blacksmith, she sailed to America on the eve of the Revolution. She and her tiny band of followers settled in upstate New York where, after years of poverty and isolation, converts began flocking to their log cabin. She was arrested as a British spy and tormented by angry mobs, but nevertheless remained firm in her claim to be the messiah in female form, and began an epic journey through New England towards the spiritual home she had seen in a vision.
My adaptation of Ann the Word was serialised as Book of the Week on Radio 4 (21-25 August 2000)
“An entertaining and absorbing study….it is one of those books that is utterly interesting for its own sake. If you put it in the guest bathroom I guarantee long absences at dinner” (Jeanette Winterson, The Times)
“This splendid biography of Ann Lee, one of the first Shakers, offers rational insight into the power of belief.” (New Yorker)