Curious about fiction that features Quakers, either as main characters or minor characters.

Does anyone recommend - or not recommend - any in particular?

I'm in the middle of one now that somebody passed on to me because it had Quakers in it. Probably best not to comment on it until I finish it. The title is "In Every Heartbeat" by Kim Vogel Sawyer, a historical novel, set in Missouri in 1914.

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In his book "In the Heart of the Sea" Nathaniel Philbrick states that the Quaker settlement at Nantucket was a major whaling centre with many ships manned mainly by Quakers.  Melville used his knowledge of this when writing "Moby Dick "

Amanda Manouvrier said:

There were quaker ships - for instance Penn's fleet that took Friends to the New World. But in the case of Moby Dick, Pelag and Bildad were described as 'fighting quakers'. Quakers are obviously well known as pacifists and conscientious objectors, so this was a little joke by the author.
Jeremy Voaden said:

One reference that I have never understood, is that at the start of Moby Dick, where it is stated that the whale-hunting vessel is a "Quaker ship". Given the nature of Captain Ahab and the other seamen, and the purpose of the vessel, this has always struck me as curious. Does anyone know if there were such "Quaker ships" and any background to them?
Great book.

Quakers dominated the practice of whaling in New England for decades and decades. Here is one of many articles about it:

Jeremy Voaden said:

One reference that I have never understood, is that at the start of Moby Dick, where it is stated that the whale-hunting vessel is a "Quaker ship". Given the nature of Captain Ahab and the other seamen, and the purpose of the vessel, this has always struck me as curious. Does anyone know if there were such "Quaker ships" and any background to them?
Great book.

I can highly recommend the Quaker novels of Ann Turnbull  ... aimed at young readers I found them to be page-turners for adults too and also books I would give to people who would like to know more about friends.
Its a trilogy about a lovestory set in the times of early friends (I just read vol 1 & 2 yet)

A large bibliography is available for $2.50 at

It's by ANNA BREINER CAULFIELD and published by Pittenbruach Press.

Voyageurs by Margaret Elphinstone is a really nice historical novel with a Quaker protagonist. It's set in the Michigan Territory. The novel expresses the experience of discernment very well through the main character's inner life and actions.

A Friend lent me "For the Love of a Friend." I think it's published by FUM. Now that is one bad bonnet ripper. What really bugged me was how the author sort of condensed a few hundred years, like all pre-1900 Quakers existed simultaneously. So, in the 1840s they're discussing "the latest preaching from George Fox"....who was already dead for 150 years, and there's a bit where it's sounding like the Hicksite split is impending...even though it's about 15-years done.

I have no recommendation about this one way or the other, since I haven't read it, but there is a new series about Quakers, starting with a book called Their Frontier Family.

There's also a Quakers of New Garden series, which I also haven't read.

(These are both the product of searching for the word "Quakers" and seeing what comes up)

There is a chapter book for children/young adults called "Who Comes with Cannons?" about Quakers in the south and north during the Civil War.  Very good.

If I might add movies to this discussion, in addition to the film version of FRIENDLY PERSUASION already mentioned, there was the western HIGH NOON, also starring Gary Cooper.

In High Noon, Cooper does not play a Quaker, but a sheriff in the wild west who is about to retire and go on his honeymoon.

They get word that Frank Miller, who the sheriff had sent to prison, will be arriving on the noon train, with the intention of killing the sheriff. Instead of departing for his honeymoon, the sheriff means to stay for this confrontation, which, of course, would involve a shootout. His Quaker bride (Grace Kelly), says she will leave him on that noon train if he plans to be  in this violent confrontation.

Here is a link for the theme song "Do Not Forsake Me, O My Darlin'" that shows the main conflict of the film with lines like, "Oh, to be torn 'twixt love and duty/ S'posin' I lose my fair-haired beauty."

The movie is shot in real time, the 85-minute span of learning about the ex-convict's impending arrival and the arrival of the train. There are some videos on youtube showing the town anxiously awaiting.

If we're mentioning movies, then surely one of the nicest (and also a Gary Cooper movie) is *Friendly Persuasion*, which actually includes a couple of incidents from Jessamyn West's sequel book of stories, *Except for Me and Thee.* Which reminds me--I need to get out the sheet music I have of the title song and practise if on my harp, along with Christmas carols....

As long as we've started in on movies, there's The Angel and the Badman. A grade C- movie if there ever was one. It does have one major recommendation. At the end,  JOHN WAYNE gives up his gun and JOINS THE QUAKERS!

A recent favorite of my husband Doug is "The Bulwark" by Theodore Dreiser. Even though Dreiser wasn't a Quaker (his mother was a Mennonite), he became fascinated with Quaker mystics like John Woolman and Rufus Jones. It's a story about a Quaker business man who is tested by the trials of life (especially his kids) and moral dilemmas in the Quaker bank where he works. Although the book is a bit overwritten in places and not as successful as literature as some of Dreiser's other novels, Doug says it captures important aspects of Quaker life experience. He found it very moving for Quakers who may have spent their lives working in the institutions of this world.

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