Puritanism has been described as “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy”. It’s taken me a long time to realise that my upbringing in a tiny Strict Baptist sect was essentially a Puritan upbringing: our chapel was an isolated little pocket of Christian fundamentalism, right at the edge of ordinary, workaday Protestantism.
Quite how my family got itself stuck in a fundamentalist rut is one of the puzzles I try to excavate in the Huguenot Jo blog. Our mulish opposition to religious conformism and the state arose from our Huguenot roots - and our ancestors’ secret flight from savage persecution at the hands of French Catholics.
The blog is the heart of the Huguenot Jo website. You can sign up to follow it by email (at the bottom of each page) or via social media.
In the blog, I’m exploring what happened to my family within the wider story of the Huguenots and their part in European history and culture. History is imperceptibly inside us, not just out there in the material world; it creates our cultural and emotional context. Protestantism has a particular take on the role of women in society: women's rage and "the outcast woman" are recurrent themes in the blog.
The About page outlines the origins of the blog, and lists Huguenot names borne by my forebears.
The Bibliography lists all the books and films I’ve consulted, reviewed or recommended as sources; the Resources section lists recommended websites for further leads. “A Beginner's Guide to Dissenters” – the Glossary - is a somewhat irreverent checklist of schools of Protestant thought, many of them rather obscure, many no longer extant.
Frequently Asked Questions tries to answer the most common questions about Huguenots, Strict Baptists and the blog. The Gallery is a great place for inspiration and to browse pictures illustrating Huguenot history.
“…those electrifying moments in your blog posts when you bring personal experience to bear on an historical or cultural theme…”~ Professor Jon Cook, University of East Anglia
I just had the declutterers in. It’s sheer extravagance, but when you’ve still got the debris from your father’s estate to weed out, ten years after his death, probably justified. Maybe in 2008 I believed I might still keep him – deny death - by holding on to every...read more
Margaret Atwood dedicated her novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” to Mary Webster – “Half-Hanged Mary”. Webster was hanged from a tree for witchcraft in 17th century Puritan New England, yet – remarkably – survived overnight, was cut down, and subsequently lived on for...read more
“Versailles” is a Franco-Canadian TV series: an expensively-made costume drama about the court of Louis XIV, famous for its extravagance, fashion and fireworks - both literal and metaphorical. Apparently it was shot in English rather than French to lure a global...read more
The writer, broadcaster and popular historian John Julius Norwich died on 1 June 2018, aged 88, just after publishing “France: A History from Gaul to de Gaulle”. Poignantly, the author says in the preface: “I know I have said it before, but this is almost certainly...read more
Follow the blog
To follow the blog, just fill in your details here and you'll get weekly Huguenot Jo news and updates.