Dr Sara Read

Dr Sara Read

Academic, Novelist, Grandma, Dog Walker

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Maladies and Medicine

Maladies and Medicine

Health and Healing in History

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Research, teaching

Flesh and Spirit

In 2014 Manchester University Press published an anthology I co-edited with Dr Rachel Adcock (Keele University) and Dr Anna Ziomek (Reading University).

Flesh and Spirit is a collection of women’s writing by seventeenth-century women who understood their bodily and spiritual health to be inextricably connected. The summary reads:

This anthology makes accessible to readers ten little-known and under-studied works by seventeenth-century women (edited from manuscript and print) that explore the relationship between spiritual and physical health in the period. Providing a detailed and engaging introduction to the issues confronted when studying women’s writing from this era, the anthology also examines female interpretations of illness, exploring beliefs that toothache and miscarriage could be God’s punishments, but also, paradoxically, that such terrible suffering could be understood as proof that a believer was eternally beloved.

The extracts in the anthology explore how illness was an important part of women’s religious conversion, often confirming religious belief, but also how women could advise others about their physical and spiritual health in manuscript and print. The anthology includes a thorough introduction to the period’s medical and religious beliefs, as well as an introduction to contemporary ideas about women’s physical and spiritual make up. Each of the ten extracts also has its own preface, highlighting relevant contexts and further reading, and is fully annotated.


Lady Mary Carey, Meditations and Poetry (1647-57)
Elizabeth Major, Honey on the Rod (1656)
Gertrude More, The Holy Practices of a Divine Lover and the Spiritual Exercises (1657)
Elizabeth Clinton, the countess of Lincoln’s nursery (1622)
Brilliana, Lady Harley, Commonplace Book (1622) and Letters (1625-43)
‘Eliza’, Eliza’s babes (1652)
Anonymous, Conversion Exemplified (1663)
Lady Elizabeth Delaval, Meditations and Prayers (1662-71)
Katherine Sutton, A Christian Woman’s Experiences (1663)
Hannah Allen, A Narrative of God’s Gracious Dealings (1683

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