“The soft white strong hand of God”: Gender and the expression of evangelical piety in the religious fiction of Grace Livingston Hill, 1897–1948

Vanderbilt University
Publication year

Grace Livingston Hill "wrote westerns and mysteries, domestic and romance novels. Each had the requisite happy ending, and nearly all had a strongly religious theme" (3). This dissertation is not limited to the romances, but instead

uses the novels of Grace Livingston Hill (1865–1947), a writer who produced more than one hundred books between 1897 and 1948, to explore ideas about gender and the expression of faith in early twentieth-century evangelicalism. It argues that Hill's popular religious fiction is an overlooked resource for understanding the social and religious context that helped shape an emerging evangelical subculture. By surveying the novels chronologically, the study demonstrates the way Hill interacted with and popularized theological movements and issues within American Protestantism. A lifelong Presbyterian, Hill viewed her work as a mission and variously promoted evangelism and reform work, social gospel ideas, Christian Endeavor, Bible Schools and Conferences, and dispensationalist theology. Her stories repeatedly address points of tension within American Protestantism and demonstrate the way in which the symbols of religious authority were changing for those who were drawn to the emerging evangelical subculture. (Abstract)