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The Gendered Politics of Publication of Mary Fletcher’s Auto/Biography
Carol Blessing

This article focuses on the representation of Methodist preacher Mary Bosanquet Fletcher (1739–1815) in her biography by the Revd Henry Moore. His omissions and commentary served to neutralise some of her more radical ideas and early feminism, which can be discovered by reading her manuscript journals, as well as the manuscript correspondence between Mary Tooth, keeper of Mary Fletcher’s papers, and Henry Moore. The product of archival research in the Methodist collections at the John Rylands Library in Manchester, this article owes a great debt to archivists Dr Peter Nockles and Dr Gareth Lloyd.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
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Jennifer Lloyd

other representative women, provide the introductions to each chapter. When women’s history emerged as a field in the 1970s, much of historians’ effort went toward recovering the details of women’s lives. This book contributes to that tradition, but also responds to Jacqueline de Vries’s call for a focus on women’s religious experiences ‘constructed within specific social, emotional, institutional, and theological circumstances.’3 It is the first scholarly examination of the entire history of nineteenth-century British Methodist women’s preaching. Inevitably it draws

in Women and the shaping of British Methodism
Jennifer Lloyd

against women preaching, and Jabez Bunting once described women’s claim to an extraordinary call as ‘every fanatic’s plea.’23 Where superintendents were hostile, female evangelists were silenced, causing some to join sects where their talents were welcome.24 Zechariah Taft still hoped to keep some of them within Wesleyanism. He came to their defense twice more in the 1820s, although his support was more muted than the whole-hearted defense of women preaching in his 1802 publication. In 1820 he published The Scripture Doctrine of Women’s Preaching: Stated and Examined

in Women and the shaping of British Methodism
Jennifer Lloyd

extent, by the Primitive Methodists, had eased with the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, although radical agitation continued to be met with government repression. Bible Christian preachers certainly attracted the attention of local magistrates, and several suffered brief imprisonments, but this had little if any effect on the sect’s growth. It was initially a cottage religion, with class meetings in homes and much of the preaching in the open air – the first chapel, at Lake in Shebbear, was not built until 1817.161 These were conditions in which women’s preaching

in Women and the shaping of British Methodism