Evelyn Underhill and the Christian Social Movement

Jessica Malay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Evelyn Underhill is mainly known for her work in mysticism and spirituality. This article explores the political dimension of her work and argues her early work in mysticism and later work in spiritual direction and retreat work underpinned her engagement with leading figures in the interwar Anglican church and their social agenda. During this period Underhill worked closely with William Temple, Charles Raven, Walter Frere and Lucy Gardner among others. In the interwar years she contributed in important ways to the Church of England Congresses, and the Conference on Christian Politics, Employment and Citizenship (COPEC) initiative. She challenged what she called the anthropocentric tendency in the Christian Social movement and insisted on the centrality of the spiritual life for any effective social reform. Underhill worked to engage the general public, as well as Christian communities, in a spiritual life that she saw as essential to the efforts of individuals and organizations seeking to alleviate contemporary social harms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-200
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Anglican Studies
Issue number2
Early online date28 Sep 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020


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