Western Daughters in Eastern Lands
British Missionary Women in Asia
by Rosemary Seton
January 2013, 221pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-84645-017-4
$65, £50, 57€, A90
eBook Available: 978-0-313-09729-4
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

British missionary service in the 1800s and 1900s entailed far more than visiting a foreign country to conduct bible lessons. These devoted workers embarked on dangerous journeys to their new homes, where they set up elementary schools, ran makeshift hospitals, and administered orphanages—all while suffering tremendous hardships of poverty, climate, mental and physical stresses, and political oppression. It is little known today that many of these anonymous and overachieving missionaries were women.

This book provides a compelling narrative history of the experiences and achievements of female British missionaries in China, India, and Africa during the 19th century and first half of the 20th century—the first such account available.

Despite the fact that by the early 20th century female missionaries began to outnumber their male counterparts, there are few publications that document the contributions of women to the missionary movement against a backdrop of civil unrest, famine, and war. Western Daughters in Eastern Lands: British Missionary Women in Asia provides accurate and insightful information to rectify this glaring omission.

In this book, author Rosemary Seton draws upon memoirs, letters, diaries, and mission records to create a unique and fascinating history of the British women whose sense of vocation took them to the East. As most British missionary women of this period were Anglicans, Baptists, Congregationalists, and Methodists, the focus is upon Protestant missionaries; Catholics are also included, however. Through these sources, a clear picture of women missionaries emerges: their social background and motivation; their lives on the mission-field and their place in mission hierarchies; their selection and training; and their educational, evangelical, and medical work. The book concludes with an assessment of their achievements and impact on foreign societies.


  • Original documents include materials extracted from letters, diaries, and memoirs of and about British women missionaries
  • Photographs from the rich archives of British missionary societies and from private collections
Rosemary Seton is research associate in the Department of the Study of Religions at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, England. For many years Seton was in charge of archives and special collections at SOAS. Her published works include The Indian "Mutiny" 1857–58: A Guide to Source Material in the India Office Library and Records and Missionary Encounters: Sources and Issues.
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