Ann The Word: The Story of Ann Lee, Female Messiah, Mother of the Shakers, the Woman Clothed with the Sun

Richard Francis

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.

Ann Lee was one of the most extraordinary and mysterious women in the history of western culture – possibly the most influential artisan woman since Joan of Arc. Born in Manchester in 1736, she was the illiterate daughter of one blacksmith and later wife of another. When she died in America, aged forty-eight, she left behind her a religion which was to have thousands of followers and which became America’s most important and successful utopian community.

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

Reviews of Ann The Word: The Story of Ann Lee, Female Messiah, Mother of the Shakers, the Woman Clothed with the Sun

    • ‘It is one of those books tht is utterly interesting for it’s own sake…Entertaining and absorbing.’ Jeanette Winterson
    • ‘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
    • ‘’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