Great River Books

The Spirit’s Pilgrimage

Introduction by Barbara Grizzuti Harrison

In 1931 Mahatma Gandhi attended the historic Roundtable Conference on India, and the world's attention turned to London. Photographs showed him accompanied by a woman of European origin, and this woman, a statuesque and noble presence, captured the imagination of millions. Years later, with the movie Gandhi, the image of this enigmatic woman, a daughter of the British aristocracy yet a close and respected follower of Gandhi, again arouse the world's curiosity.

This is the story of that woman, Madeleine Slade, renamed by Gandhi, a revealing account of her extraordinary life. First published in 1959 and long unavailable, it is reissued with a new introduction by Barbara Grizzuti Harrison, a writer who has lived in and written about India. Ms. Harrison's sensitive and searching introduction takes the measure of Mirabehn not only as a writer, but as a courageous and noble human being, as a foreigner in the complex culture of India at a moment of high historical drama, as a disciple in a close and difficult relation with Gandhi, and not least, as a woman.

"A deserved monument not only to the great and extraordinary man whom she followed and served, but also to a life that was, and is, remarkable and of importance in itself. "

— The New York Times

"A remarkable autobiography. Those who saw the movie Gandhi will remember the Englishwoman who gave up her life of comfort and privilege to help the Mahatma work for political independence. The book deserves a large readership."

— Publishers Weekly

"A story of a soul bent on creating a life of devoition and unfailing service under what were sometimes excrutiating circumstances. Mirahehn emerges as a presence of strength, perseverance, and that old-fashioned virtue, character. This is a book for anyone interested in Gandhi, modern histroy, or the life of a strong and dedicated woman."

— Yoga Journal

"What she did, always with purpose and devotion, is an inspring and beautiful story."

— Belles Lettres

Born the daughter of a British Admiral, Madeleine Slade chose to live closely with Gandhi and his followers in 1925, years before Gandhi's greatness and historical significance were recognized by most of his own countrymen, not to mention even the most astute of Englishmen. For more than thirty years, enduring the hard work, the extremes of climate and privation, and very real dangers of Gandhi's campaigns, she served as one of his most trusted soldiers and confidants, suffering imprisonment, yearly bouts of malaria and the emotional struggle of an intense and complex relationship with Gandhi. After his assassination in 1948, she stayed in India another eleven years, continuing to work to improve life in India. Her last years were spent in Vienna, absorbed in her study of Beethoven, the first passion of her life. She died at age 90 in 1982.


Cloth & Trade paperback
5 1/2 x 8 1/2

336 pages



Pb: ISBN 0-915556-13-8

LC 84-6071 CIP
Pb US$ 9.95


Out of stock