This is the first narrative history of the experiences and impact of British missionary women in China, India and Africa. By the early twentieth century women missionaries from Britain had begun to outnumber their male counterparts. Hundreds of them (either married or, increasingly, single) travelled to locations in distant Asia, often remote and inhospitable, where they devoted themselves to a spiritual mission of spreading the Word, and a practical one of teaching and healing. Individually and collectively their story is an extraordinary one. But until now it has largely been ignored. In this book Rosemary Seton has drawn on memoirs, letters, diaries and mission records to create a unique and fascinating history of the British women whose sense of vocation took them to the East. The focus is primarily on Protestant missionaries, since most British missionary women of this period were Anglicans, Baptists, Congregationalists and Methodists, but Catholics are also included.The author describes how the women were assessed for their suitability by officials of the missionary societies, and follows their journeys to their new homes, where they set up elementary schools, ran makeshift hospitals, administered orphanages and taught in colleges. Much of their work was with children and women - they were the first Westerners to make contact with Islamic and Hindu women in purdah. Following their vocation, the missionary women suffered tremendous hardships - of poverty, climate and political oppression - and often struggled to cope with mental and physical stresses. Yet they persevered. Notable heroines of the mission emerged such as Mildred Cable, Gladys Aylward (played by Ingrid Bergman in the movie The Inn of the Sixth Happiness) and Amy Carmichael, but hundreds of other women, anonymous but no less remarkable, played their part in this extraordinary story. This is the first book to be written on the subject of British women missionaries. The author is an expert in this subject, she is the Head of the largest archive of missionary-related material in the UK. Women's experience remains a topic of interest, as does the clash of cultures and religions.
Western Daughters in Eastern Lands by Rosemary Seton was published by ABC-CLIO in July 2012. The ISBN for Western Daughters in Eastern Lands is 9781846450174.