In the late 1980s, when Karen Armstrong was working on a book that eventually became the best-selling A History of God, she had done little to suggest that she would become the author of 19 books and an internationally known commentator on world religions. At the time she was, in her own words, “a failed nun” and “a failed academic.”
Born in 1944 in Wildmoor, Worcestershire, England, Armstrong entered a convent at age 17. Her years as a novitiate and nun were not happy ones. Her order, the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, was, in the 1960s, awkwardly adjusting to the new climate created by the reforms of Vatican II. She suffered from epilepsy and anorexia, diseases which went undiagnosed and untreated—her superiors simply thought she was a difficult, maladjusted person. Nor did she receive the education that her hungry mind craved.