Padwick, Constance Evelyn
Constance Evelyn Padwick was a British missionary, author and literature worker. Padwick grew up near Chichester and in London and was educated mainly at home. She trained as a teacher and worked from 1909 to 1916 on the home staff of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) as editor of its children’s magazine, then in Cairo with the Nile Mission Press until 1921. On leave in Britain, she studied Arabic and Arab folklore at the University of London, and in 1923 returned to Egypt under the CMS, with which she served to the end of her career. In the Middle East she developed her knowledge of Arabic and her understanding of Islam. She became secretary of the Central Committee for Muslim Literature, writing as well as editing; she was also one of the editors of Orient and Occident. From 1937 she worked in Palestine, and after the war she was asked to go to the Nuba Mountains in Sudan to write appropriate Arabic material for the Nubian peoples. For her friendship and help to the Muslims and Christians alike she was much loved and respected. Her time in Sudan ended in 1951 with severe illness, and she officially retired in 1952, but her real retirement in Dorset and then Somerset did not begin until 1957.
Few women, if any, have made as great a contribution to the knowledge and understanding of Islam as Padwick. In the West she is remembered chiefly for her biographical writings-the very influential life of Henry Martyn, which has been an inspiration to many Christian students, and the life of her colleague Temple Gairdner of Cairo. She also commemorated Lilias Trotter, founder of what became the North Africa Mission (later Arab World Ministries) in an anthology of Trotter’s writings. But for those whose chief interest is the study of Islam, her most important publication is her definitive study of Muslim prayer manuals, informed by her knowledge of mosques and Muslim devotees all over the Middle East and beyond, published during her retirement.
Constance E. Padwick, Henry Martyn, Confessor of the Faith (1923), Temple Gairdner of Cairo (1929), The Master of the Impossible Sayings, for the Most Part in Parable, from the Letters and Journals of Lillias Trotter of Algiers (1938), and Muslim Devotions: A Study of Prayer-Manuals in Common Use (1961).
Kenneth Cragg, Troubled by Truth: Studies in Interfaith Concern (1992), pp. 52-73 (chap. on Padwick).
This article is reproduced, with permission, from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, copyright © 1998, by Gerald H. Anderson, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.