Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In Ann the Word: The Life of Mother Ann Lee, Founder of the Shakers, Nardi Reeder Campion surveys the spiritual beginnings of the United Society of True Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing through the biography of Ann Lee, the founder of this religious order. Separating from the Quakers, this sect became known as the “Shaking Quakers,” and later as the “Shakers,” because of their active worship style. The main focus of Campion’s book is the trials and suffering of “Mother Ann” as she tried to live and share her beliefs. A glowing foreword by the author sets the stage for the review of the life of this unusual woman, who influenced thousands of men and women in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries but who has almost faded into obscurity.

The book consists of a chronological retelling of Mother Ann’s life. Through fifteen chapters, Campion traces her life in England and later in America. The book starts with Ann Lee’s birth at Toad Lane in Manchester, England. The daughter of a blacksmith and one of eight children, Lee could neither read nor write. She started to work in a factory at an early age and sought solace from the hard work in religion. The reader follows her passage from youth into adulthood, when societal mores force her to marry. Lee’s dislike of marriage and the loss of four children caused her to become even more involved with religion, and she ultimately became a spokes-person for a splinter group of...

(The entire section is 465 words.)