Lilian Staveley was unknown to the public when, at the end of the first world war, she brought to John M. Watkins of London a manuscript to offer for publication. For the sake of her own privacy, she insisted upon remaining anonymous, since her beloved but non-mystical husband--Brigadier General William Cathcart Staveley of the British army--was still living, and she was surrounded by the social world she later described in her autobiography, The Prodigal Returns. It was only after her death that General Staveley learned that his fond wife and companion of nearly thirty years had for long led a hidden spiritual life which from charity she had opened to the reading public in three works constituting a deeply original and grace-filled personal record of a soul's journey to God. In The Golden Fountain the author shares with us many secrets of a life of integral devotion, providing a marvelous example of how true mysticism leaves nothing outside the pale, but in an eminently practical manner knits up all the elements of our everyday existence into the seamless robe of contemplation.
Little is known of the author's historical person beyond the few facts she herself has told us in The Prodigal Returns. Born around 1878 into a distinguished and intellectual English family named Bowdoin, descended on both sides from Huguenots of the old French nobility, she was reared in an international setting, during an era when modern science seemed to promise an answer to every problem of the universe. Her discovery of a direct and living relationship with God has been chronicled in her autobiography mentioned above. It is characteristic of her spiritual way, however, that she continued to attend Anglican church services, husk though the outward form may have become for her in the light of her inward experience.
She died in 1928 and her body lies buried in a Dorsetshire village.
Now, when she and those of her generation who knew her have departed this earth, we can freely honor the anonymous mystic without fear of indiscretion. World Wisdom Books is happy to bring out this new edition of The Golden Fountain under the name of Lilian Staveley.