Skip to main content
placeholder image

The laws of God and men: Eliza Davies’ Story of an Earnest Life

Chapter


Abstract


  • This article explores Eliza Davies' 1881 autobiography The Story of an Earnest Life through the lens of nineteenth-century spiritual autobiographic genres. It analyses Davies' use of the spiritual autobiography to create a subjectivity beyond the culturally-sanctioned role of wife and mother, a sense of self that is closely linked to her legal identity. In South Australia in the early 1840s, Davies found herself trapped in a position of legal non-subject through her marriage to a violent, alcoholic husband. Her autobiography charts not only her spiritual journey as Christ's missionary, but also he recreation as a legal subject through the divorce proceedings she brought against her husband in the 1860s. Through her interrogation of legal identity, Davies registers a dissenting voice in contemporary religious and imperial discourses regarding women's social and legal position.

Publication Date


  • 2015

Citation


  • S. Ailwood, 'The laws of God and men: Eliza Davies’ Story of an Earnest Life' in A. Collett & T. Simoes da Silva(eds), Dissenting Lives (2015) 81-92.

International Standard Book Number (isbn) 13


  • 9781138810112

Book Title


  • Dissenting Lives

Start Page


  • 81

End Page


  • 92

Place Of Publication


  • Abingdon, Oxon

Abstract


  • This article explores Eliza Davies' 1881 autobiography The Story of an Earnest Life through the lens of nineteenth-century spiritual autobiographic genres. It analyses Davies' use of the spiritual autobiography to create a subjectivity beyond the culturally-sanctioned role of wife and mother, a sense of self that is closely linked to her legal identity. In South Australia in the early 1840s, Davies found herself trapped in a position of legal non-subject through her marriage to a violent, alcoholic husband. Her autobiography charts not only her spiritual journey as Christ's missionary, but also he recreation as a legal subject through the divorce proceedings she brought against her husband in the 1860s. Through her interrogation of legal identity, Davies registers a dissenting voice in contemporary religious and imperial discourses regarding women's social and legal position.

Publication Date


  • 2015

Citation


  • S. Ailwood, 'The laws of God and men: Eliza Davies’ Story of an Earnest Life' in A. Collett & T. Simoes da Silva(eds), Dissenting Lives (2015) 81-92.

International Standard Book Number (isbn) 13


  • 9781138810112

Book Title


  • Dissenting Lives

Start Page


  • 81

End Page


  • 92

Place Of Publication


  • Abingdon, Oxon