Cover image for Blood and fire : William and Catherine Booth and their Salvation Army
Blood and fire : William and Catherine Booth and their Salvation Army
Hattersley, Roy.
Personal Author:
First edition in the U.S.A.
Publication Information:
New York : Doubleday, 2000.

Physical Description:
viii, 471 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
General Note:
Originally published: London : Little, Brown, 1999.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BX9743.B7 H38 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Blood and Fireis a brilliant biography of two great social and religious figures whose inheritance lives on to this day.  William Booth (1829-1912) was one of the most extraordinary men of his age, a pawnbroker's clerk who would found the most successful religious movement of the nineteenth century--the Salvation Army. As a twenty-year-old, he developed the unshakable belief that God had ordained him to convert the world to Christianity.  Convinced that both churches of Victorian England were ignoring the needs of the poor, he founded the East London Christian Mission.  As the mission became the Salvation Army, it recruited thousands of members in battalions around the globe.  Its membership is now in the hundreds of thousands in virtually every country. Catherine, his wife, was in many ways even more exceptional.  A chronic invalid and mother of eight children (within ten years), she inspired the social policy that was, and remains, an essential part of the Salvation Army's success.  Catherine held ideas on social equality that were ahead of her time, and she encouraged the Army to accept "women's ministry" and give female officers authority over men.  Her campaign against child prostitution resulted in the age of consent being raised from thirteen to sixteen.  And it was Catherine who, even while dying of cancer, urged William to develop his plans for clearing the Victorian slums.  Blood and Fireis a brilliant account of a fascinating period of social history.

Author Notes

Roy Hattersley divide their time between London and Derbyshire, England.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Arguing that William and Catherine Booth, the founders of the Salvation Army, "deserve a place in the pantheon of Great Victorians," Hattersley has written a respectful biography of these two worthy subjects. Although both William and Catherine were equally instrumental in the establishment of the Salvation Army, each contributed different practical and philosophical ideas to their radical movement. William, obsessed with the concept of saving souls, recognized poverty as the true enemy of redemption and hit upon the novel idea of using the poor to recruit the poor for mission work. Catherine, a committed egalitarian, is largely credited with designing the revolutionary social policy of the Salvation Army, and was insistent on the inclusion of females both in the pastorate and in the organizational hierarchy. After launching their ministry in London's impoverished East End, they worked tirelessly to spread the word, eventually claiming converts in countless nations. A long overdue testament to the two remarkable individuals responsible for successfully orchestrating a thoroughly novel and enduring religious movement. --Margaret Flanagan

Publisher's Weekly Review

Former British Member of Parliament Hattersley offers a skillful, well-executed joint biography of William and Catherine Booth. William founded the Salvation Army, that boisterous, brazen band of evangelists determined to save the world from sin. Hattersley's account of William's career is livelyÄWilliam was a colorful, publicity-seeking fellow who preached in the streets and warbled hymns that sounded like drinking songs; he wanted not only to introduce men and women to Christ but to clean up the slums, stamp out Demon Rum and tend to the physical as well as spiritual needs of the poor. But Hattersley's more notable accomplishment is his portrait of Catherine, William's wife: he manages to show how extensively Catherine, who spent much of her adult life desperately ill, contributed to the Salvation Army without anachronistically turning her into a modern feminist. Catherine did have feminist leaningsÄshe claimed that to oppose female ministry was to thwart the will of GodÄyet Hattersley suggests that her importance was less as a preacher than as the driving moral and spiritual force behind the Salvation Army. When William began to crusade against prostitution, for example, Catherine convinced him that men were partly to blame for the sex trade, since it was they who drove women to the streets. This history is a delightful and nuanced study of two fascinating characters and the religious movement they spawned. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Hattersley (Fifty Years On; A Yorkshire Boyhood) writes an account of the Salvation Army that is good history and good reading, a rare and wonderful combination. Though the title suggests a dual biography, William Booth shares center stage with the organization he founded, while wife Catherine earns frequent mention but less examination. Hattersley, a former Labour MP, believes that the Booths belong in the ranks of other eminent Victorians (General Gordon, Florence Nightingale, etc.) for their advancements of the theory and practice of social welfare and for their then-novel ideas on social equality. The military histrionics the Booths enthusiastically adopted to organize their followers and minister to the poor made them targets of middle-class scorn and of other Christian denominations. Hattersley himself indulges in frequent wry asides, but there's no question that he writes with affection and respect for his subject. Recommended for academic and public libraries, which will find that this nicely complements but does not replace Norman H. Murdock's Origins of the Salvation Army.DRobert C. Moore, Framingham, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.