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Marshall, Catherine

MARSHALL, Catherine

Born 27 September 1914, Johnson City, Tennessee; died March 1983

Daughter of John A. and Leonora Whitaker Wood; married Peter Marshall, 1936 (died 1949); Leonard E. LeSourd, 1959; children: one son

Catherine Marshall's father was a pastor of a Presbyterian church in Canton, Mississippi, and later in Keyser, West Virginia. Marshall earned a B.A. in history from Agnes Scott College. Her first husband Peter was already a well-known pastor in Atlanta when they were married. In 1937 they moved to the New York Avenue Church in Washington, D.C., and in 1946 Peter became chaplain of the U.S. Senate. After her husband's death in 1949, Marshall became an editor and writer in order to support herself and her son. Her second husband was the editor of Guideposts, an inspirational magazine which published many of Marshall's shorter articles. She was the woman's editor of the Christian Herald from 1958 to 1960, when she became a roving editor for Guideposts.

In 1953 Marshall was named "Woman of the Year" in the field of literature by the Women's National Press Club. She was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, served Agnes Scott College as a trustee, and received honorary doctorates from Cedar Crest College and Taylor University.

Marshall's first independent work was editing a few of Peter's sermons and prayers, which were published as Mr. Jones, Meet the Master (1949, revised 1950). Mr. Jones stayed on the nonfiction bestseller list for almost a year and led to the contract for her most important work, A Man Called Peter: The Story of Peter Marshall (1951, most recent reprint 1998), another bestseller for many years.

A Man Called Peter has been categorized as "a biography, an autobiography-biography, a fairy story with a sad ending, a Horatio Alger novel, a how-to book on successful marriage, and a straight-from-the-shoulder devotional on God." Whatever its genre, this book sold over four million copies during its first 20 years and is still sells today. With Marshall assisting in production, it was made into a successful film (1955), and translated into Dutch, printed in a large-print edition, and recorded for the blind.

This "autobiography-biography" is, of course, the story of Peter Marshall, the Scotsman who grew up in poverty, emigrated to America, and became one of the most widely admired preachers of the 20th century. The prose is clear, concise, concrete; and the book is saved from excessive sentiment by its simple sincerity, honesty, and forthrightness.

Marshall's novel, Christy (1967, 1994), features a protagonist whose fortitude grows from her faith, much as Peter Marshall's does in A Man Called Peter. Based on the experiences of the author's mother, Christy is the story of a nineteen-year-old woman who, in 1912, leaves her comfortable home to spend a year teaching in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. The clear style and obvious sincerity that mark all of Marshall's works enable this long novel to maintain its charm, even though it sometimes moves very slowly. The book was later made into a successful television drama in the mid-1990s, and spawned a paperback tie-in.

Marshall has also written or edited over a dozen other book-length works, including several children's books, and many articles for popular and religious magazines. Marshall's The Helper (1978), is a series of 40 devotionals about the Holy Spirit, which Marshall says "has been written out of my own spiritual need to speak to those who share my longing for thirst-quenching quaffs of the Living Water." Probably everything Marshall has ever published could be prefaced by those words.

Other Works:

The Mystery of the Ages (with P. Marshall, 1944). Let's Keep Christmas by P. Marshall (introduction by Marshall, 1953). God Loves You: Our Family's Favorite Stories and Prayers (with P. Marshall, 1953; revised 1967). The Prayers of Peter Marshall (edited by Marshall, 1954, later reprinted as a combined book of A Man Called Peter and The Prayers of Peter Marshall: A Spiritual Life, 1996). Friends with God: Stories and Prayers of the Marshall Family (1956). The Heart of Peter Marshall's Faith: Two Inspirational Messages from "Mr. Jones, Meet the Master" (introduction by Marshall, 1956). To Live Again (1957). The First Easter (by P. Marshall, edited and introduction by Marshall, 1959). John Doe, Disciple: Sermons for the Young in Spirit (by P. Marshall, edited and introduction by Marshall, 1963). Beyond Ourselves (1966, 1994). Claiming God's Promises: Selections from Guideposts by Catherine Marshall and Others (1973). Something More: In Search of a Deeper Faith (1974, 1994). Adventures in Prayer (1975, 1996). To Live Again (1984). Julie (1984). Guide to Abundant Living (1985). Catherine Marshall's Storybook for Children (1987). Together with God: Family Stories, Poems and Prayers of the Marshall Family (1987). Day by Day: With Catherine Walker (1990, 1995). The Inspirational Writings of Catherine Marshall: Something More; A Closer Walk (1990). The Inspirational Writings of Catherine Marshall (1991). A Closer Walk: A Spiritual Lifeline to God (1994). Light in My Darkest Night (1994). The Best of Catherine Marshall: Her Intimate Life (1995). Unlocked Dreams: A Collection of Poems (1995). Quiet Times with Catherine Marshall (1996). The Collected Works of Catherine Marshall: Two Bestselling Works Complete in One Volume (1997).

Bibliography:

Davis, E. L., Fathers of America: Our Heritage of Faith (1958). Haslam, B., From Suffrage to Internationalism: The Political Evolution of Three British Feminists, 1908-1939 (1999). Hosier, H. K., Profiles: People Who Are Helping to Change the World (1977). LeSourd, L., ed., The Best of Catherine Marshall (1994). McReynolds, K. M., Catherine Marshall (1999). Petersen, W. J., C. S. Lewis Had a Wife; Catherine Marshall Had a Husband (1986). Vellacott, J., From Liberal to Labour With Women's Suffrage: The Story of Catherine Marshall (1993).

Reference works:

CA (1976). SATA (1971).

Other references:

Albion (Winter 1995). American Historical Review (February 1995). History (Summer 1994). Journal of Women's History (Summer, 1996). Newsweek (4 April 1956). PW (18 Oct. 1971). SR (10 April 1954).

—PEGGY SKAGGS

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