Yearning for the New Age

Yearning for the New Age

Laura Holloway-Langford and Late Victorian Spirituality
Sarah Diane Sasson
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 05/07/2012
Format: Hardback 6 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-00177-1
Bookmark and Share

Other formats available:

Buy from Amazon


This biography of an unconventional woman in late 19th-century America is a study of a search for individual autonomy and spiritual growth. Laura Holloway-Langford, a "rebel girl" from Tennessee, moved to New York City, where she supported her family as a journalist. She soon became famous as the author of Ladies of the White House, which secured her financial independence. Promoted to associate editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, she gave readings and lectures and became involved in progressive women’s causes, the temperance movement, and theosophy—even traveling to Europe to meet Madame Blavatsky, the movement’s leader, and writing for the theosophist newspaper The Word. In the early 1870s, she began a correspondence with Eldress Anna White of the Mount Lebanon, New York, Shaker community, with whom she shared belief in pacifism, feminism, vegetarianism, and cremation. Attracted by the simplicity of Shaker life, she eventually bought a farm from the Canaan Shakers, where she lived and continued to write until her death in 1930. In tracing the life of this spiritual seeker, Diane Sasson underscores the significant role played by cultural mediators like Holloway-Langford in bringing new religious ideas to the American public and contributing to a growing interest in eastern religions and alternative approaches to health and spirituality that would alter the cultural landscape of the nation.

Author Bio

Diane Sasson received her doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the author of The Shaker Spiritual Narrative (1983) and articles on American folklore and communal societies. She was Director of the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Program at Duke University, and served as President of the National Association of Graduate Liberal Studies. For the last decade, she has been on the faculty at Vanderbilt University.


“This captivating biography tells the story of Laura Holloway-Langford, a "rebel girl" from Tennessee who became a famous author and journalist in 19th-century America and found herself embroiled in controversies over race, gender and religious authority.”

“As Sasson's title suggests, there is an inherent ambiguity in the life of [Laura Holloway-Langford]. On the one hand, there is the spiritual quest from liberal Protestantism to spiritualism to theosophy to Buddhism; on the other, there is her pragmatically progressive critique of sexual norms and her championing of women's rights (though she was ambivalent about suffrage), women's labor, and the agenda of the New Woman.2013 100.1”
 — Journal of American History

“DianeSasson’s excellent biography of Laura Holloway-Langford (1843–1930) uses evidence from letter collections, 29 books, and more than 80 articles that Holloway-Langford published from1868 to 1917, show how Holloway-Langford challenged traditional values that circumscribed women’s lives.”
 — Nova Religio

“Yearning for the New Age will be particularly insightful to those who study the development of alternative religions—including Spiritualism, Shakerism, and Theosophy—in the United States and the roles of women within such traditions. . . . Along its richly detailed biography, readers of Yearning for the New Age will encounter important additions and new materials that will deepen historical understandings of New Age movements in America. ”
 — American Studies

Customer Reviews

There are currently no reviews
Write a review on this title.

Table of Contents

A Note on Names
1. Sex, Suffrage, and Religious Seekers
2. "A Clairvoyant of the First Water"
3. "Better Come"
4. "The Bomb-shell from the Dugpa World"
5. Fantasizing the Occult
6. "Our Golden Word: Try"
7. The Lady Mrs. X
8. Disseminating New Ideas
9. Music of the Spheres
10. "Dear Friend and Sister"
11. Who Tells the Tale?
Epilogue: Seeking Laura
List of Abbreviations

Related Titles