Clogs and Shawls

Mormons, Moorlands, and the Search for Zion

In this revealing family memoir, best-selling author Ann Chamberlin explores the history of her Mormon grandmother Frances Lyda and her seven sisters who grew up desperately poor in Bradford, Yorkshire, in the early years of the twentieth century. Chamberlin’s narrative follows these eight daughters of Mary Jane Jones and Ralph Robinson Whitaker, a remarkably gifted yet poor and blind piano tuner. Most of the girls were forced by necessity to abandon school at age twelve and find work in terrible conditions at a local factory. When their mother converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1901, she became the backbone of the Mormon community in Yorkshire. Her daughters followed their mother into her faith, while navigating their own, sometimes tragic, ways into adulthood, family, and the world beyond industrial England. Though they were exploited and undereducated, the girls maintained a steadfast belief in a brighter future for the Mormon faithful, a mindset that, despite their many differences, forged an unshakable togetherness between them. All gifted and strong individuals in their own right, many of the Whitaker sisters overcame long odds and incredible hardships to carry on and prosper in Salt Lake City.
Chamberlin interviewed her grandmother and six of her surviving great-aunts for Clogs and Shawls, the relatives who had made their way to Mormon Zion. She weaves novelistic passages with their first-person narratives to create a singular work of oral immigrant family history that is both lively and revealing.

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Ann Chamberlin is the best-selling author of fourteen historical novels and numerous plays produced around the United States. Her recent books include The Book of Wizzy and The Sword and the Well trilogy. She has a degree in anthropology from the University of Utah.

Table of Contents:
Family Tree
Part One
The Shadow
In Exile with the Children of Israel
O My Father
In the Family Closet
Part Two
Infancy (Our Doris Dresses Up)
School (Our Ivy Is Lost)
At Home (Our Barbara Cleans and Our Hannah Listens)
Clothing (Our Frances Sews)
Our Violet Is Born and Our Mona Sees the Elephant
Our Nellie
Around East and West Bowling
Clogs and Shawls
Facts of Life and Death
Part Three
Wuthering Heights
Nurse Whitaker
Letters Home
Mona and the Devil
Emulate Her Virtues
The End

Praise and Reviews:
“Rich and informative, Chamberlin is a really gifted writer who gives the reader vivid insights into the social history of the time and place where these women lived while at the same time bringing them and their family members to life in such a way one can almost smell the blood and sweat.”
—Kerry William Bate, author of the award-winning memoir The Women: A Family Story
“Chamberlin’s confident way of writing, her skillful use of dialect, conversation, and the wonderful and vibrant way she describes her relatives makes these individuals come alive. The book rings with the sound of authentic experiences by common folk who were extraordinarily interesting.”
—Martha Bradley-Evans, author of The Four Zinas: Mothers and Daughters on the Frontier

“Ann Chamberlin has written a Yorkshire hymn of poignance and grace amidst all odds. Her book is a tracing of the ins and outs of family—its strengths and failures, its defects and amazing resilience—and serves as a testimony to the power of lineage.”
—Phyllis Barber, author of To the Mountain: One Mormon Woman's Search for Spirit

“While references to Zion, life as a millworker, the struggles of being poor, and the Yorkshire moors all appear in the title, none of those is really the center of the story. Those topics are the scaffolding of the writing, but they are not the heart of the story. It is the sisters and their durable connections who are the heart of the narrative, no matter the setting they found themselves in. Chamberlin’s skill lies in peeling away some of the mythical layers to reveal a story made all the more powerful because it is embedded in the sisters’ humanity and in the poignancy of human frailty.”
BYU Studies