I begin with a disclaimer. I am not a theologian or historian of spirituality but rather a biographer. I mention this because one of the descriptors of a biographer is as detective, one who searches for every clue in order to understand a life. I say this because it will help explain why I have chosen to speak about a great lacuna of EU life, the period after the Great War, 1918-1920. We know little about this time, but it is an axial point in Underhill’s life, a turning from her life as a scholar of mysticism to a vocation as retreat leader and spiritual guide. By 1921 she has returned to the Anglican church from which she had been estranged for many years and she sought out the counsel of Baron F. von Hugel, … Read more
In his talk on Evelyn’s feast day, June 15, 2021, Bishop Frank Griswold both modeled and reflected on what it means to be a “person of prayer.” He said he does not study Evelyn Underhill, but that he has found her to be a companion, experiencing in her teaching the way that Christ comes to us through the saints.
He began by reflecting and expanding on the importance of worship and adoration in the life of prayer, so foundational to all of Underhill’s work. A person of prayer is someone who is attached to God at the very deepest level, and who is learning that praise, worship and service are all part of our “yes” to the Holy Spirit praying in us, a “yes” to who God has made us to … Read more
“The intense silence seemed to slow down one’s far too quick mental time and give one’s soul a chance. To my surprise a regime of daily communion and four services a day with silence between, was the most easy, unstrained and natural life I had ever lived. One sank down into it, and doing it always with the same people, all meaning it intensely, and the general atmosphere of deep devotion – for the whole house seemed soaked in love and prayer – cured solitude. 
This was the experience of the writer Evelyn Underhill when she went on her first retreat in the summer of 1922. She went to Pleshey, a recently established retreat house in Essex, alongside a group of elementary school teachers from the East … Read more
June 15th 2021 was the 80th anniversary of the death of a remarkable woman, Evelyn Underhill. She is one of only 18 modern women whose lives are commemorated in the Church of England’s Calendar of Holy Days.
As a gifted writer and retreat leader she helped, and still helps, countless people around the world who are searching for a relationship with God. She asked the questions that Christians and others seeking God are still asking, and through her writing was able to address them in a way that is still meaningful in the 21st century.
A new memorial
Evelyn Underhill is buried in the Additional Burial Ground of Hampstead Parish Church. Followers from all over the world come looking for her grave, but it is hard to spot because she is described simply as ‘Evelyn’, ‘the wife … Read more