- Mr Wroe’s Virgins by Jane Rogers
Faber, 276 pp, £13.99, April 1991, ISBN 0 571 16194 4
- The Side of the Moon by Amanda Prantera
Bloomsbury, 192 pp, £13.99, April 1991, ISBN 0 7475 0861 5
In 1830 the prophet John Wroe asked his congregation of Christian Israelites in Ashton-under-Lyne for seven virgins to serve in his household. The Israelites had already built a Sanctuary and four gatehouses at Ashton, in the belief that the Lancashire cotton town was to be the site of the New Jerusalem. Mr Wroe got his virgins, but less than a year later he was almost lynched by his flock after the church elders had acquitted him on charges of indecency. His later career was pursued as a missionary, notably in Australia where the Christian Israelite sect still survives. He died at Melbourne in 1863. Who the seven virgins were, and what happened to them, is not recorded.