Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Four Women in a Violent Time, written by Deborah Crawford, is the collective biography of Anne Hutchinson, Mary Dyer, Deborah Moody, and Penelope Stout. The book traces the lives of these four women and their effects on religious and personal freedom in both England and early America. The book is divided into four parts, each containing one to seven chapters. The biography opens with the childhood of Hutchinson and ends with the death of Stout. There is also an appendix with a list of sources and suggestions for additional reading.

Crawford begins by describing the childhood of Hutchinson, who was the daughter of Francis Marbury, a minister in sixteenth century England. The author takes great pains to portray the religious tension that surrounded this place and time and to make clear the moral decisions that faced Hutchinson and her family in their choice of how to worship. Dyer, a friend of Hutchinson, is briefly introduced early in the text, but her role both in Hutchinson’s life and in the lives of the early settlers is not presented in great detail until later in the book. Moody’s life in England as a titled woman with an influential husband is also discussed in early chapters. After the death of her husband, Moody, because of persecution by the Crown, departed for the Colonies and began a new life. The early life of Stout in Holland and her subsequent marriage and immigration to America are discussed in later chapters. Crawford provides...

(The entire section is 433 words.)