“Welcome, bishops, to our space,” said Jane Williams to much applause as the world’s Anglican bishops joined their spouses for the launching of her book, Marriage, Mitres and Myself. The event was held on July 17 at the sports hall of the University of Kent, which had been transformed into a venue for the spouses’ conference.
Ms. Williams, who is married to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, said the book, published in April by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK), has been a bestseller, much to the puzzlement of bishops’ wives. (The book, which has been reprinted twice, is being sold alongside celebrity biographies in U.K. book shops, said SPCK’s Joanna Moriarty.)
“Why are people interested? Why is it still selling well? What is it about our role that people find intriguing?” she asked in remarks delivered before she signed copies of the book.
Ms. Williams said that the book chronicles not just her own experience and reflections but also those of some bishops’ spouses about what it’s like being married to a bishop. “It celebrates what it’s like to be called God’s people as Anglicans,” she said. She said that, although the stories do not paint a monochrome of experiences, they do have “themes that run consistently – themes of commitment, themes of gratitude for God’s faithfulness to us as he calls us, themes about the privilege in the way that God trusts us with his gospel…”
Ms. Williams read excerpts from the book, including a reflection from one spouse who likened her role to being “a wife in a polygamous marriage.” Another talked of the loneliness of moving to a new place and later discovering the gift that it brings.