Ann the Word: The Story Ann Lee Female Messiah Mother Shakers Woman Clothed W/ Sun

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9780142002438: Ann the Word: The Story Ann Lee Female Messiah Mother Shakers Woman Clothed W/ Sun

The first biography of Ann Lee, founder of the American Shaker movement and female Messiah. From humble origins in 18th century Manchester, Ann Lee (or Mother as she liked to be known) became the visionary religious leader of a community of the faithful in America.

In 1773 Ann Lee left the Manchester House of Correction where she had starved and been deprived of sleep for 14 days. In that time she claimed that, in a vision, God told her that she was the Messiah. She set forth to proclaim ‘Ann the Word’, the woman ‘clothed with the sun’ and took the title of Mother. Ironically her own four children all died at birth.

To escape persecution in 18th century Manchester, she took the faithful, including her husband and father, on a pilgrimage to America arriving in New York and later settling in Niskeyuna.

The Shaker phenomenon grew, fuelled by visions of Mother Ann after her death in 1784. Famed particularly for their later characteristic furniture design the shakers were only disbanded in the 1960s. This is the first account of the extraordinary life of a visionary who founded a community in her own image in Pioneering America.

Only in the 19th century did the Shakers create their characteristic furniture designs. The Shakers disbanded in the 1960s.

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Review:

"And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars" (Revelation XII, 1). This apocalyptic biblical image of the coming of a female messiah has often been used to describe one of the most remarkable and charismatic women in the history of modern religion--Ann Lee, the uncompromising and fanatical leader of the 18th-century religious sect known as the Shakers, and the fascinating subject of Richard Francis' excellent biography Ann the Word: The Story of Ann Lee, Female Messiah Mother of the Shakers The Woman Clothed with the Sun. Born in Toad Lane in Manchester in 1736, Ann was an illiterate garment worker and cook at the local infirmary. In 1758 she joined the Shakers, a small religious cult in thrall to a wrathful God who manifested his presence in their bodies through wild singing, speaking in tongues and "shaking". In 1770 Ann experienced a profound religious vision and revealed herself as "the counter-Eve and counterpart of Jesus". From this point on she became "Ann the Word", the "Mother" and spiritual leader of the Shakers. Suffering from local hostility and persecution, Ann and her followers set sail for America in 1774 and settled in upstate New York, and began the long and hard mission to "ensure that instead of being simply a cranky religious sect in northern England, Shakerism would become entwined with the developing culture of America".

Francis eloquently and sympathetically captures the terrifying fervour of Ann's charismatic and often coercive brand of religion, and portrays the terrible persecution meted out to the Shakers in vivid detail. By the time of her death in 1784 Ann "had been to 36 towns and villages, and had established a spiritual community of around a thousand souls". Ann Lee was not someone you would want to invite to your party, but Francis' book brilliantly evokes this difficult but extraordinary woman. --Jerry Brotton

Review:

’It is one of those books tht is utterly interesting for it’s own sake’
Jeanette Winterson

’A challenging reconstruction of a remote prophetic world’
Evening Standard

’Scrupulously researched and deftly constructed.’ City Life

'The first freestanding biography of the most powerful low-born religious woman since Joan of Arc. The Shakers were way different in Ann's day. They hung their chairs on the wall to create space for their dervish-like whirling, accompanied by raucous songs, shouting in tongues, calling out devils, falling down in ecstasy. Ann Lee was a holy terror.'
Sunday Times

'The first biography of Ann Lee, the remarkable woman who led a tiny band of followers to America and founded a religious movement. Ann Lee's commonplace exterior belied her charisma and intuition. Despite beatings, incarceration and accusations of witchcraft, heresy and spying, she formed around herself a coherent, devoted group of converts … Richard Francis has created a compelling image of this shadowy, shining woman and the God-fearing, God-obsessed world in which she lived.'
Observer

'Ann Lee's transformation from illiterate Mancunian blacksmith's daughter to sovereign pontiff of a thriving New England sect is one of the more bizarre and fascinating byways of Anglo-American history. These heady days of Shakerism are unlikely to be better depicted than in this book, with its meticulously researched account of this heroic, indomitable, mesmerising, chastity-obsessed, and ultimately rather ghastly woman.'
Sunday Telegraph

'Entertaining and absorbing. If you put it in the guest bathroom I guarantee long absences at dinner.' Jeanette Winterson, The Times

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Book Description Penguin USA, New York, 2002. Softcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: No Dust Jacket. First Edition. Believed by her followers to have been the second incarnation of Christ, Ann Lee may be one of the most extraordinary and mysterious women in the history of Western culture. From humble origins in Manchester, England, she became the visionary religious leader of the Shakers - a small religious cult characterized by wild shaking, impassioned singing and dancing, speaking in tongues, and a belief that the end of the world was near. When she died in America at age 48, having brought her faithful to a new land on the eve of the American Revolution, she left behind a religious movement that was to have thousands of followers and become one of our most important and successful utopian communities. First Softcover American Edition. ; 12mo - over 6¾ - 7¾" tall. Bookseller Inventory # 002148

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