Few women of the twentieth century have done more to further our understanding of the devotional life than Evelyn Underhill. Her scholarly research and writing have helped saints and skeptics alike in the study of religion and spirituality. Her highly praised book Mysticism: A Study in the Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness has gone through many editions and continues to be a foundational text for all students of spirituality.
Underhill was educated at King's College for Women in London, where she spent much of her time writing and lecturing. She was the Upton lecturer at Manchester College, Oxford, from 1921 to 1922. However, her enduring contribution comes not from her academic achievements but from her personal insights into the devotional life. After a religious conversion at the age of thirty-two, she practiced this devotional life with great intensity.
Underhill's personal spiritual journey intersected with her intellectual capability, producing the much needed combination of authentic spirituality and academic integrity. As a result, she was a highly sought after spiritual director. In addition, she became well known as the conductor of retreats at various Anglican religious centers.