287 William and Catherine by Cathy Le Feuvre

by Gerard


287.96092: Le Feuvre, Cathy. William and Catherine: The Love Story of the Founders of The Salvation Army, Told Through Their Letters. Oxford, UK: Monarch Books, 2013. 315 pp. ISBN 978-0-85721-312-9.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 200: Religion
  • 280: Dominations and sects of the Christian Church
  • 287: Methodist and related churches
  • 287.9: Churches related to Methodism
  • 287.96: Salvation Army
  • +092: Biography

In 1852, a young man in London wrote a letter to a particularly striking woman he saw in his congregation. Catherine Mumford was a woman who knew from the beginning that the man she would agree to marry would be deeply religious, abstain from alcohol, and be a man of sense. William Booth was a Methodist preacher in Clapham, and when the two met, a deep love formed. Cathy Le Feuvre’s William and Catherine covers the letters exchanged between the two starting in 1852 until Catherine’s death in 1890. In those 38 years, the couple married, matured, created a family, suffered setbacks and loss, and eventually changed the world with a new Christian Mission, one that would be named The Salvation Army.

To be sure, Le Feuvre gets a little flowery in trying to frame a descriptive narrative around the letters, so much so that sometime she doesn’t let the letters speak for themselves. As someone unfamiliar with the beginnings of the Salvation Army, it was nice, however, to get a little background on all the people who came in and out of the Booths’ lives. One of the more interesting phenomena that occurred after the founding of the Salvation Army was the formation of several rebel “armies” around England, including the Skeleton Army and the Red Nose army who sought to push back against Booth tirades against alcohol. There’s a bunch of wonderful details about Victorian life, including religious organizations and the social landscape in 19th century England. Her sources could use a little work, though, so the reader should be careful not to use this for serious research. Booth and his family tried their best to make their world a better place, and for that reason, this was a very interesting volume.