Hannah Whitall Smith was a prominent and popular evangelical writer and speaker in the second half of the nineteenth century despite her universalism and fierce feminism. Raised as an Orthodox Quaker in Philadelphia, she became one of the leading female figures in what became known as “The Holiness Movement” in America. As a “holiness Quaker,” a revivalist, a feminist, a mystic, a peacemaker and nineteenth century ecumenist – evangelical in orientation yet progressive in politics – she defies classification even today.
In this lecture, Carole Dale Spencer argues that she was in fact, a Christian mystic, and that the spirituality she wrote and spoke about can be traced not only to her Quaker roots and upbringing, but also to the writings of Roman Catholic Quietists, Jeanne Guyon, Francois Fenelon, and Miguel de Molinos, and other Catholic mystics. This lecture will also explore the relationship between Smith and another “Holiness Quaker” and mystic, J. Rendel Harris, the first Director of Woodbrooke.
Carole Dale Spencer is Associate Professor of Christian Spirituality at Earlham School of Religion in Richmond Indiana. She received her PhD in theology through the Centre of Postgraduate Quaker Studies (CPQS) at the University of Birmingham with Ben Pink Dandelion as her advisor, and spent several summers as a resident of Woodbrooke while doing research.