Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved by Beauty

An Intimate Portrait of My Grandmother

Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved by Beauty

“An intimate, revealing and sometimes wrenching family memoir of the journalist and social advocate who is now being considered for canonization” (The New York Times), told with illuminating detail by her granddaughter.

Dorothy Day (1897-1980) was a prominent Catholic, writer, social activist, and co-founder of a movement dedicated to serving the poorest of the poor. Her life has been documented through her own writings as well as the work of historians, theologians, and academics. What has been missing until now is a more personal account from the point of view of someone who knew her well. Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved by Beauty is a frank and reflective, heartfelt and humorous portrayal written by her granddaughter, Kate Hennessy.

Dorothy Day, writes Hennessy, is an unusual candidate for sainthood. Before her conversion, she lived what she called a “disorderly life,” during which she had an abortion and then gave birth to a child out of wedlock. After her conversion, she was both an obedient servant and a rigorous challenger of the Church. She was a prolific writer whose books are still in print and widely read. Although compassionate, Hennessy shows Day to be driven, dogmatic, loving, as well as judgmental, in particular with her only daughter, Tamar. She was also full of humor and laughter and could light up any room she entered.

An undisputed radical heroine, called “a saint for the occupy era” by The New Yorker, Day’s story unfolds against a backdrop of New York City from the 1910s to the 1980s and world events spanning from World War I to Vietnam. This thoroughly researched and intimate biography provides a valuable and nuanced portrait of an undersung and provocative American woman. “Frankly,” says actor and activist Martin Sheen, “it is a must-read.”
  • Scribner | 
  • 400 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781501133978 | 
  • November 2017
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About the Author

Kate Hennessy
Photograph by Garry Jones

Kate Hennessy

Kate Hennessy is a writer and the youngest of Dorothy Day’s nine grandchildren. Her work has been included in Best American Travel Writing. She is the author of Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved By Beauty and, in collaboration with the photographer Vivian Cherry, Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker: The Miracle of our Continuance. Kate divides her time between Ireland and Vermont.

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