New Book: ‘Quaker Rebels’

Leslie Denis (an American Quaker, based in France) shares her new book about two US Quaker suffragists who came to Birmingham in the 1910s:

I am happy to announce the publication of my new book, Susanna and Alice: Quaker Rebels, about suffragist Alice Paul and her cousin Susanna Parry, who were cousins of my grandfather, Edwin Parry. The title is a nod to my grandfather’s book, Betsy Ross Quaker Rebel, about his great-great grandmother, Elizabeth Claypoole, whose name in her first marriage was Betsy Ross and who was one of the organizers of the Free Quaker Society of Philadelphia. Alice Paul and Susanna Parry were, like Betsy Ross, Quaker rebels who challenged the cultural norms and the laws of their day. I think Friends of the Central England Quakers Area Meeting would enjoy reading about them.

The book was eight years in the making, from the day my cousin gave me Susanna’s collected letters. The collection contains letters from Alice, which are featured in the book and should delight Alice Paul scholars and followers. The letters also reveal Susanna Parry’s story of thwarted love for her college roommate, which remained a secret for generations until discovered in a box of dusty letters. Moreover, the book is rich in information about subjects of interest to Quakers: the history of Quakers in America, Betsy Ross, Jane Addams and settlement reforms, Swarthmore College, Alice Paul’s training as a suffragette at the Pankhursts’ WSPU, and the Woodbrooke Quaker settlement and school near Birmingham, which Susanna and Alice both attended. The book contains a chapter of letters which Susanna wrote during her studies at Woodbrooke in 1914, including a fascinating account of a dinner at “Manor House,” the home of the Cadbury family.

The release of the book is timely: Alice’s fight for women’s full equality under the law is celebrated in this 50th anniversary year of the passage of her Equal Rights Amendment, and the telling of Susanna’s long-hidden story of forbidden love is a relevant cry for freedom of choice at a time when women’s fundamental rights are being threatened in America.

Susanna and Alice: Quaker Rebels is published by Sunbury Press and is available to order online in paperback and e-book formats. I believe Quaker readers would be inspired by this unusual account of two Quaker women who dared to defy tradition and fight for change in the last century.