From the Archives: Judi Dench reading Mary Ward’s ‘But Women’ Speech

11 JANUARY 2017

[soundcloud url=”″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

In 1617, Mary Ward made three speeches to her sisters at St Omer. She had lately overheard a priest remark that, although the sisters were doing good work, they were ‘but women’, and so their fervour would decay. Mary Ward made a passionate speech, declaring that ‘there is no such difference between men and women, that women may not do great matters.’

This recording was made in 1985 by Judi Dench, as part of a presentation of Mary Ward’s life by William Hewett SJ . Apart from a little scene-setting, the text is entirely Mary Ward’s own words to her sisters.