Dorothy Day, one of the most important American Catholic leaders of the 20th century, had an unexpected past. Her early years included a bohemian lifestyle in New York, an abortion, and a child born out of wedlock. She later co-founded the Catholic Worker Movement, a pacifist, faith-based movement for social change that still exists today. Day led the Catholic Worker Movement from its beginnings in the Great Depression through the Vietnam War era. Day fed thousands of people, wrote newspaper columns, novels and plays, was arrested several times in protests, chain-smoked for years, and at times lived on farms as part of an agrarian, back-to-the-land strand of the Catholic Worker movement. She died in 1980 and is now a candidate for sainthood in the Church.
A new biography that illuminates Day’s activism and her complex personal life comes from someone who knows both well. Writer Kate Hennessy is Day’s youngest granddaughter, and she relied on family letters and diaries, interviews, and her own memories for her new book, Dorothy Day: The World Will be Saved by Beauty.