Love among the Friends – long concealed Quaker passion revealed in new book

Quaker loveFormer Guilford College trustee and person of many parts, Ann Trueblood Raper, has written yet another book (this one following her National Continuing Care Directory: Comprehensive Information on Retirement Facilities and Communities Offering Prepaid Contracts for Long-Term Care, published in 1984).

Raper’s latest goes in a new direction: love crossing boundaries between Quakers at a time when tensions were high within the divided sect. With this story – a Hicksite cavorting with an Orthodox Friend, trysts at Earlham and Westtown, star-crossed lovers seeking to unite the tribes – Raper has ripped the covers off a previously hidden story of love, religion and revival among Friends.

Just published, the book is A Quaker Courtship: A love story in discovered letters and photos of two Young Friends in 1922.

A Quaker Courtship is an intimate, endearing story of love and a tantalizing glimpse of the life, key leaders and organizations among Quakers in 1922, revealed in letters, photographs and telegrams exchanged almost daily by Paul Furnas and Betty Walter as they met, courted and planned to marry.

Paul and Betty were Quakers from different branches of Friends: the Furnases were Orthodox and the Walters were Hicksite. Their own courtship coincided with an effort among young adult Friends to unite these disparate branches and revive the Religious Society of Friends in the United States. As leaders of this movement much was made of their own union.

Reveiwers say

This is an exquisite book. Despite the formality of the times and the serious issues they were confronting, the couple’s letters reveal a sweet and playful relationship that I found quite moving. Fascinating setting, thoroughly enjoyable story.

* * *

Excellent and enlightening.

One hesitates to reveal the outcome of the story — but history shows that the issue of this union went on to provide leadership and support for Quaker institutions from Westtown School to Earlham College, Guilford College, the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and many more.

Fruit of a once-forbidden union.


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