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Why did early modern people change their religious affiliation? And how did they represent that change in writing? In this outstanding new book, Conversion Narratives in Early Modern England: Tales of Turning (Palgrave, 2018), Abigail Shinn, who teaches in the department of English and Comparative Literature at Goldsmiths, University of London, opens up a broader range of conversion narratives than literary or historical scholars have previously discussed. By expanding the chronological and geographical range of her sources, and so expanding their religious affiliation of her authors and drawing into discussion larger numbers of women, she shows how the representation of conversion changed from the late sixteenth to the mid-seventeenth century, and how disparate narratives relating experiences of Protestant, Catholic and Islamic conversion nevertheless continued to show similar rhetorical characteristics.

Crawford Gribben is a professor of history at Queen’s University Belfast. His research interests focus on the history of puritanism and evangelicalism, and he is the author most recently of John Owen and English Puritanism (Oxford University Press, 2016).

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