Elizabeth Fry and Sarah Martin
in Making and remaking saints in nineteenth-century Britain
Abstract only
Log-in for full text

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

manchesterhive requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals - to see content that you/your institution should have access to, please log in through your library system or with your personal username and password.

If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/extracts and download selected front and end matter. 

Institutions can purchase access to individual titles; please contact manchesterhive@manchester.ac.uk for pricing options.


If you have an access token for this content, you can redeem this via the link below:

Redeem token

It is surprising that so few historians have considered the attractions of female sanctity for Protestant women. This chapter builds on the pioneering work of Eileen Yeo to explore the role of exemplary biography in promoting ideas about female sanctity, vocation, and even ministry. Victorian sketches of ‘worthy’ girls and women were widely disseminated by the periodical and religious press. These were shaped, often explicitly, by Christian hagiography and the ‘Lives of the Female Saints’. Yet they lauded a surprisingly universal and inclusive model of Christian womanhood, characterised by faith and service to others. The chapter examines two women hailed as saints whose biographical ‘lives’ did much to popularise female Christian activism; the prison reformers Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845) and Sarah Martin (1791-1843). According to historians of feminism and of criminal justice, the ‘saintly’ portrayal of reformers like Fry and Martin was used to mask the authoritarianism of nineteenth-century philanthropy. By contrast, this chapter contends that women's philanthropy, while implicated in disciplinary society, remained a powerful critique of dehumanising public institutions like prisons. For all their sugary sentimentalism, hagiographic studies of Fry and Martin captured some of the subversiveness of activist voices, just as earlier Christian ‘lives’ of female saints had depicted them as difficult and defiant as much as deferent.

Editor: Gareth Atkins


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 32 19 0
Full Text Views 21 2 0
PDF Downloads 17 2 0