In this captivating book, Seth Koven chronicles how each traveled the globe--Nellie as a spinster proletarian laborer, Muriel as a well-heeled tourist and revered Christian peacemaker, anticolonial activist, and humanitarian. Koven vividly describes how their lives crossed in the slums of East London, where they inaugurated a grassroots revolution that took the Sermon on the Mount as a guide to achieving economic and social justice for the dispossessed. Koven shows how they devoted themselves to Kingsley Hall--Gandhi's London home in 1931 and Britain's first "people's house" founded on the Christian principles of social sharing, pacifism, and reconciliation--and sheds light on the intimacies and inequalities of their loving yet complicated relationship.
The Match Girl and the Heiress probes the inner lives of these two extraordinary women against the panoramic backdrop of shop-floor labor politics, global capitalism, counterculture spirituality, and pacifist feminism to expose the wounds of poverty and neglect that Christian love could never heal.
Seth Koven teaches history at Rutgers. He is also the author of Slumming: Social and Sexual Politics in Victorian London.
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