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Evelyn Underhill’s Prayer Book

Robyn Wrigley-Carr

In January, 2018, Evelyn Underhill’s Prayer Book will be published by SPCK, London. I wanted here to give you a tiny glimpse of how the Prayer Books were found, plus a taste of some of Evelyn’s prayers.

Last year, while on a research trip examining ‘echoes of von Hügel in Evelyn Underhill’, I visited The Retreat House at Pleshey (near Chelmsford, UK). While looking through some papers and books there, I stumbled upon Evelyn Underhill’s Prayer Book. It had been found at an Oxfam Bookshop many decades before by a Canadian priest who had posted it to Pleshey. Several Underhill scholars had assumed it had been lost decades before. As I read through the Prayer Book, I had the words of Grace Adophsen Brame echoing in my heart and mind:

…that little book of prayers which Underhill had … Read more

Is it possible to be a “Do It Yourself” Christian Mystic? Evelyn Underhill would say “No” — and I agree with her.

Carl McColman

Nearly all Christian mystics maintain that an essential characteristic of Christian mysticism is participation in the Body of Christ, which is to say, in the Christian community of faith. In other words, to be a Christian mystic, it is as important to be a follower of Christ as it is to be a mystic. And to be a follower of Christ means to express spirituality in a communal way. The above statements annoy a lot of people. Sorry about that, but that’s how it rolls.

Community. If it’s good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for us. Recently a reader of this blog forwarded me an email from a friend of his who criticizes some of Evelyn Underhill’s ideas in her book Mysticism: A Study in the Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness. These two people, whom … Read more

Life as Prayer: The Development of Evelyn Underhill’s Spirituality

Todd Johnson

Although Evelyn Underhill (1875–1941) was baptized and confirmed in the Church of England, the Underhill family could be considered Christians in only the most social of terms. Underhill had little formal religious education and no theological training.1 In fact, Underhill’s first commitment to any sort of religious group was a hermetic sect known as the “Golden Dawn,” a most inauspicious beginning for one who would later be called “the spiritual director for her generation.”2

Underhill’s spiritual journey is a fascinating one, and one which has been well chronicled.3 Her career began with her classic work Mysticism (1911)4 and can be said to have concluded with her other classic Worship (1936).5 These studies are similar in that they were comprehensive in their scope and pioneering in their approach, and both volumes are standard works … Read more

Annual Quiet Day 2018

Evelyn Underhill and the “Mysticism of Ordinary Life”

Deborah Smith Douglas

Saturday, June 16, 2018, 9:30-3:30

Nourse Hall, St. Albans Parish*
Next door to the Washington National Cathedral
3001 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington DC 20016

*Please note change of venue
Please bring a sack lunch

Registration opens: May 1, 2018
Download Registration Form

Evelyn Underhill has long been recognized as a pioneer in the retreat movement in the Church of England, and as a highly regarded spiritual director and writer. The author of more than twenty-five books, she was the English language’s most widely read writer on prayer, contemplation, spirituality, worship and mysticism in the first half of the 20th century.

That is the outward, public face of her life and work.

What we will be exploring in this quiet day is the more private aspect of her faith journey—the … Read more

2017-18 The Evelyn Underhill Association Newsletter

In This Newsletter: Evelyn Underhill’s Prayer Book Robyn Wrigley-Carr Is it Possible to be a “Do It Yourself” Christian Mystic? Carl McColman Life as Prayer: The Development of Evelyn Underhill’s Spirituality Todd Johnson The 2017 Underhill Quiet Day Retreat and Lecture Offerings on Evelyn Underhill YouTube Resources on Evelyn Underhill New and Noteworthy Scholarship on Evelyn Underhill

Evelyn Underhill and C.S. Lewis: Elective Affinities

by Ron Dart


It is this capacity for giving imaginative body to the fundamental doctrines of Christianity that seems to me one of the most remarkable things about your work.

~ Evelyn Underhill letter to C.S. Lewis, January 13 1941

Many with a minimal literary background will have read articles or books by C.S. Lewis. The Lewis of popular consumption is certainly not the more nuanced and layered Lewis. The more popular books by Lewis were, mostly, published in the 1940s-1950s and up to his death in 1963. There have been many letters, books, articles by Lewis published since his death, but, the C.S. Lewis of the 1930s was still in the budding phase with a few blossoms that hinted further fruit.

The rather abstract and initial autobiography of Lewis’ journey to Christian faith, The Pilgrim’s Regress: An Allegorical Apology … Read more

Finding Evelyn Underhill

by Susan Dean


One spring about twenty-five years ago, when my family still lived in Minnesota, I was trying to decide what to give up for Lent. My friends were mostly giving up chocolate or wine. Those choices would have been perfectly appropriate for me too, but I wanted something different that year, so I went to our associate priest to ask his advice. He suggested that instead of giving anything up, I read a book, and what he came up with for me was Mysticism by Evelyn Underhill.

It may help to know that I had only been back at church for a few years, having not attended for about twenty. I knew very little about theology or spirituality. So Mysticism — with its 519-page description of the unitive life, purification, voices and visions and a whole bunch of … Read more

The Spirituality of Risk

by Donyelle C. McCray, Ph.D.


Delivered at the Underhill Quiet Day
June 18, 2016

I. The Soft White Bed

I’m often curious about how teachers like Evelyn Underhill spend their leisure time. Somehow it gives me a much-needed window into the personality. I was intrigued when I learned she enjoyed trips to Spain and Italy. Fondness for travel suggests something expansive about her. The fact that she liked the Norwegian mountains said something hardy about her. It helped me even more to learn that she liked sailing. That pointed to an adventurous streak – an interesting complement to an inner life characterized by doubts and insecurity. But I was really blown away when I discovered that during the 1920s, she and her husband Hubert owned a motorcycle with sidecar. They would ride out into the countryside in it together for … Read more

2016-17 The Evelyn Underhill Association Newsletter

Download the PDF version of this newsletter.

Annual Quiet Day 2017

The Homely Ways of the Spirit: A Day of Quiet Reflection with Evelyn Underhill


Leader: Bishop Frank T. Griswold, former Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church

Saturday, June 17, 2017,  9:30-3:30
Nourse Hall, St. Albans Parish
Next door to the Washington National Cathedral
3001 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington DC 20016

As he prepares to be our guide for this year’s annual Quiet Day, Bishop Griswold writes “I was introduced to Evelyn Underhill at the age of 16, by a priest who lent me a copy of Light of Christ. From that day on, Underhill’s practical, “homely” and no-nonsense approach to the inner life has been both an invitation and a steadying guide across the seasons of my life. As I look toward our day together, I am drawn to … Read more

Evelyn Underhill and the Virgin Mary

by Carol H. Poston


Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941) was a guiding light in Anglican spirituality in the twentieth century, and her best-known works, Mysticism (1911) and Worship (1936) are still read and studied today. Aprolific writer-theologian, poet, novelist, she is frequently anthologized. Her early life and writings—those undertaken before she became an actively-committed member of the Church of England in the 1920s—are, with the exception of Mysticism, less well-known. This article examines the early works that treat the Virgin Mary, and explain how that subject may have influenced the pacifism she later embraced. A feminist reading of those early works also suggests biographical links to her “care for souls,” or spiritual direction, and to her own family. The dutiful child of somewhat remote and distant parents, herself in a childless marriage, Underhill’s spiritual nurture by way of Mary helps explain both … Read more