Resources: By and About Lilias Trotter

67 diary journal collage

The film, Many Beautiful Things, has introduced Lilias Trotter to many people for the first time, raising questions and queries about her life and legacy.  What did her work in North Africa really involve?  What specific approaches did she use to connect with the Arab Muslims?  How was she received?  Or, more importantly, how was her message received?  What was the nature of her dialogue with the Sufi Mystic Brotherhood?  How did she survive the desert years – physically and spiritually?  What, if any, was her legacy in Algeria?  What is her legacy today?

With these, and many other questions in mind, I want to take this opportunity to introduce you to resources by and about Lilias Trotter, with a brief description of each work, then connect you to places that they can be purchased.

Product Details

A Passion for the Impossible:  The Life of Lilias Trotter by Miriam Rockness,  Discovery House Publishers, 1999.  This is the most current biography, drawn from original sources as well as past biographies.

Can be purchased via the following links:

Product Details A Blossom in the Desert:  Reflections of Faith in the Art and Writings of Lilias Trotter, by Miriam Rockness. Discovery House Publishers, 2007.  This is a wonderful compilation of some of Lilias most memorable insights paired with her watercolors, most of which have been hidden in obscurity for a century.

Can be purchased via the following links:

A Way of Seeing, by Lilias Trotter, compiled by Miriam Rockness, Oxvision 2016.  Forty Trotter reflections paired with watercolors from the Egerton/Trotter Collection (Lilias’ family archives).  Two additional features that make this book unique are 1) the Preface about Ruskin/Trotter relationship, written by Ruskin scholar Stephen Wildman and 2) the Introduction about the art of seeing, written by classic/scholar lecturer on faith and art, Darcy Weir.

Can be purchased via the following links:

Product Details

Lily: The Girl Who Could See, by Sally Oxley with Tim Ladwig and Miriam Rockness.  Oxvision 2015.  Lilias’s developing talent and calling is presented in a recently published picture book for “children of all ages.”  Here the simple narrative of her life is compellingly related by Sally Oxley and beautifully illustrated by Tim Ladwig.

Can be purchased via the following links:


Lilias Trotter:  Daring in the Desert, by Irene Howat. CF4Kids, 2016.  A chapter book for children – part of the award-winning Trailblazer books (historical fiction novels introducing great Christian heroes).   Advertised as a “read-aloud” book for 8-9 year-olds and a “read alone” book for ages 9-14, this is actually a wonderful read for anyone.

Can be purchased via the following links:

Product DetailsParables of the Cross, by Lilias Trotter, Oxvision 2015.  This devotional classic, written in 1893, remains, rare and true, composed of timeless verities tested by personal experience. This volume is distinct from other reprintings being the only facsimile edition.  This edition includes high quality color plates copied from the original publication.

Can be purchased via the following links:

Product DetailsLilias Trotter’s 1876 Sketchbook:  Scenes from Lucerne to Venice  This is a facsimile edition of the sketchbook that a young Lilias (23 years old) carried to Venice – where she met the famed John Ruskin, England’s foremost arbiter of art.  It contains sketches most likely instructed by the master himself.

Can be purchased via the following links:

Lilias Trotter’s  1889 Sketchbook:  Scenes from North Africa, Italy & Switzerland, Oxvision. This facsimile edition of her pocket sketchbook reveals her ability to quickly capture views with accuracy and beauty – a skill that John Ruskin extolled in his 1883 “Art of England” lecture.

Can be purchased via the following links:

TROTTER_F004_021The Sevenfold Secret, Lilias’ masterful treatise for her beloved Sufi Mystics, while not available in hard copy, can be accessed online (click on the title).  This remarkable and relevant work is based on Jesus’  seven “I AM’s” recorded in the Gospel of John and, through their unfolding “secrets,” speaks to the longings of a seeker’s soul – then and now.

Many Beautiful Things: The Life and Vision of Lilias TrotterMany Beautiful Things plunges viewers into the complex age of Victorian England to meet Lilias Trotter.  As Lilias journeys to French Algeria in the late 1800’s to pioneer missionary work with women and children viewers are left to wonder “Could you abandon a dream to pursue your true calling?” Featuring the voices of Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbeyand John Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones). Directed by award-winning filmmaker Laura waters Hinson (As We Forgive) with original music by Sleeping at Last. Executive Producers: Brian and Sally Oxley. This DVD contains options for Japanese audio and Japanese, Chinese and Korean Subtitles.  It can also be purchased Internationally via the Vision Video website.

Can be purchased via the following links:

Finally, (at least for now!) is the anticipated publication of Images of Faith by Miriam Rockness, a devotional book of reflections inspired by the art and writings of Lilias Trotter.  Miriam dips deeply into the journals and diaries of Lilias Trotter to reveal the context of Trotter’s insights and to explore their application to our lives today.



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16 Responses to Resources: By and About Lilias Trotter

  1. Sara says:

    Your 7-Fold Secret link is not working (not for me anyway) but I found another one:

    Click to access seven_fold_secret.pdf

    I have read and own many of the resources you list above and they are wonderful. Looking forward to A Way of Seeing later this year!

  2. mhrockness says:

    Thank you! I will switch to your link!

  3. Lesley Humphreys says:

    I’m sorry to have to leave a negative comment here, but I bought a copy of the facsimile edition of ‘Parables of the Cross’ and was so disappointed in the quality of the illustrations that I had to send it back. They were so much darker than the originals. This was a surprise to me because the quality of the illustrations in ‘A Blossom in the Desert’ was so much better, leading me to expect the same high standard. Has anyone else had the same reaction?

    • mhrockness says:

      I’m sorry that you are disappointed. The Chicago Conservation Center, scanned an original copy, from which we made our edition. I just went back and compared it page by page. The Amazon edition may lack a bit of the vibrancy but it is remarkably close in color. The reality is that the original water colors in the Parable of the Cross was darker. They were more stylized as well. Whether that was the printing limitations of the day – or her intention – they were my first exposure to her art (the paintings in the original edition). Imagine my surprise when I opened the pages of her diaries and journals and saw the clear fresh and wonderful color! I know that the drawings in the Parables is more “sophisticated” than in the diaries – but, not as spontaneous or color rich. Perhaps it is the topic: Death is the Gateway to Life? One must remember that the paintings in The Parables were subject to the text. But I do understand your disappointment if you were looking for more of the same as in Blossom. (However, compare that work with earlier attempts to reproduce and you will appreciate the facsimile edition, I believe).

      • Lesley Humphreys says:

        Thank you so much for replying. I do understand that the original book was printed, I think, using lithography which gave the pictures a slightly grainy appearance. As I haven’t got an original copy of The Parables I can compare the facsimile only with the online ebook. Doing that I find some of the colours in the facsimile much darker, for instance the picture of rose hips was so very much darker as to lose most of the definition. Actually, yes, some time ago I did buy a copy that purported to have good reproductions and it was very poor and bore no comparison to yours!

  4. mhrockness says:

    I must admit that your observation concerned me to the point that I ordered a copy of the Parables from Amazon to see if there is a compromise in the printing. Because we are uncertain of the demand, presently we are having them printed-on-demand. I would love to see them eventually printed on a high quality paper. Wonder if that would make a difference? (I was so unhappy with the 1889 Sketchbook that I had it taken off Amazon.) Our graphic artist has assured me that they now “match” the original in color – the other was dark and greenish – and it is back on Amazon again! It is not the highest quality paper (Amazon’s standard landscape format) as is the sketchbook and the Parable book.) Hence, the finest digital copies still lack the vibrancy in the reprinting. I have also noted that the art on wordpress has a certain luminous quality that is surprisingly lovely. I appreciate your concern – and we don’t want to do a dis-service to Lilias! Thank you, Miriam

  5. marypierson says:

    Greetings from Mary Pierson! I am thrilled to find this web site and hear of this new film being released about Lilias! I am about to reread your books and look forward to reconnecting with Lilias and you! We are so grateful for your ministry to us and all the Pierson family. How we loved our times with you in Lake Wales. I tried sending you an email and it bounced back.
    with much love to you and Dave, Mary Pierson

  6. Christopher Rice says:

    Hello Miriam,

    I am trying to track down the full version of the Which Passion Will Prevail tract.
    Can you provide me with some assistance?

    Thank you!

  7. Yvonne Bibby says:

    Thank you for this post. Just posted a quote from Lilias Trotter on my blog, I can somewhat relate since I gave up my love of art and design to serve with Campus Crusade for Christ/CRU for 30 years. Don’t regret one minute bringing the message of Jesus to others. God’s blessings on your writing and books.

    • mhrockness says:

      So glad that you appreciate Lilias. I’m sure you understand her choice, even more profoundly, because of your own decision and calling. Blessings, Miriam

  8. Melinda Creech says:

    I think the film and Lilias Trotter are beautiful. I wanted to let you know that we have a letter from John Ruskin to Lilias here at the Armstrong Browning Library at Baylor University, Waco, Texas. The letter was written on August 15, 1879. He says, “I am very glad and thankful you are back again—and eager to see you and the ‘play’.—but the little nest of a house is full till next Thursday—the 21st—can you come then?—and stay as long as ever you like.—If you can’t then tell me when you could—and I’ll arrange for it—you know ‘hours’ are no manner of use.”
    We also have a book inscribed by John Ruskin to Lilias Trotter: “Lilias./ First proof./ With the Author’s love./ 27th March, 1883.” The book is Lectures on English art : Rossetti and Holman Hunt by John Ruskin.
    We also have a couple of very beautiful letters from Francesca Alexander, another woman artist friend of John Ruskin. She lived in Florence.

  9. Bruce Walton says:

    Looking for a French copy of The Way of the Sevenfold Secret. Anyone know where to find it?

    • mhrockness says:

      I am looking into this – and will get back to you. I know that it exists: somewhere! Miriam Rockness

    • mhrockness says:

      Bruce, I just received this information from Dr. Sue Brown, archivist for AWM of Pioneers/UK:

      I’m not sure I can help your enquirer very much, but I think the best I can do is give the French title: “Les Sept Secrets du Chemin de Dieu”. There is a copy in the SOAS archives, but I’m not aware of anything currently in print. The full English text is available online at, but I haven’t traced any other extant versions in French.

      I add to her answer that SOAS is a department of the University of London – contact information provided on the website under RESOURCES (primary repositories)

      Miriam Rockness

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