The Laws of God and Men: Eliza Davies' Story of an Earnest Life

Sarah Ailwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article explores Eliza Davies' 1881 autobiography The Story of an Earnest Life through the lens of nineteenth-century spiritual autobiographic genres. It analyses Davies' use of the spiritual autobiography to create a subjectivity beyond the culturally-sanctioned role of wife and mother, a sense of self that is closely linked to her legal identity. In South Australia in the early 1840s, Davies found herself trapped in a position of legal non-subject through her marriage to a violent, alcoholic husband. Her autobiography charts not only her spiritual journey as Christ's missionary, but also he recreation as a legal subject through the divorce proceedings she brought against her husband in the 1860s. Through her interrogation of legal identity, Davies registers a dissenting voice in contemporary religious and imperial discourses regarding women's social and legal position
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-444
Number of pages12
JournalLife Writing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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