Caryll Houselander: Divine Eccentric

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By Maisie Ward

Dubbed “that divine eccentric,” Caryll Houselander married prodigious artistic and literary talents with unstinting devotion to the poor, the sick, and the sinners in her midst. Ronald Knox said that she “seemed to see everything for the first time, and…seemed to find no difficulty in getting the right word; no, not merely the right word, the telling word, that left you gasping.” In her own words, “broken across psychologically” by neuroses and temptations, “not by nature patient, kind, gentle,” Houselander’s critical faculty made charity a constant challenge—despite her persistent efforts to “see Christ in everyone.” Nevertheless, her distinguishing characteristic was a deep, genuine love of God, finding expression in a mysticism which ultimately kept her sane and centered on Christ until her untimely death at the age of fifty-four.

Our dust pays homage to God, until the endless morning of resurrection wakens our body, glorified. (Caryll Houselander)

In this absorbing, competently crafted biography, Maisie Ward pays tribute to a woman who offered her very self unreservedly to Christ and his brethren, from greatest to least. Caryll Houselander: Divine Eccentric shows clearly that, like her written works, Houselander herself is “still alive, still contemporary.”

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Maisie Ward (1889–1975) was a writer, publisher, and speaker, widely recognized as one of the most important Christian intellectuals of the twentieth century. With her husband, Frank Sheed, she founded the publishing house of Sheed & Ward, which revived the Catholic literary movement and supported and promoted the intellectual, literary, and artistic treasures of the Catholic Church.

Caryll Houselander (1901–1954) was an English Roman Catholic artist, author, poet, and mystic. A convert at age six, Houselander left the Church as a teenager, returning as a young adult and becoming a fixture in twentieth-century Catholicism. In addition to her artistic and literary endeavors, she dedicated her relatively brief life to caring for the material and spiritual needs of the poor and desolate. Her works include A Rocking-Horse Catholic, The Way of the Cross, and Guilt.

Paperback: 320pp.

ISBN: 978-1685950156