John Stott's Right Hand: The untold story of Frances Whitehead



This is a charming book, describing, in the words of Chris Wright, 'one of the greatest partnerships in church history.' It is a story which John Stott himself hoped would one day be told.

It is widely agreed that Stott could not have been half so effective without Frances Whitehead at his side. He invited her to become his Secretary when she was still a young Christian, at that time working for the BBC. Having done secret war work as a mathematician, she brought a good mind as well as determination. Stott relied on her, and she would shoulder responsibility to work on the infrastructure to establish his ideas. She also typed his 50 books from longhand.

They are both described (by one of the succession of young graduate Study Assistants) as 'fast, exacting and determined', with Frances matching Stott's gold standard again and again. 'She was as remarkable in her way as John Stott was in his.'

They were good friends, and she was named in his Will as 'My friend and Executor'. Neither married and both were completely dedicated to John's ministry. You can't understand his ministry without knowing of Frances Whitehead.

This is a very colourful biography looking at Frances Whitehead's ancestry as well as her own interesting life. It includes walk-on parts from George III, Gainsborough, Prince Albert, Florence Nightingale, the Singer family (of Singer sewing Machine fame) and Jacqueline du Pre. It is no ordinary 'Christian biography'. Her family at one stage owned much of Chelsea, including the land on which Harrods now stands.

Frances's life story gives us glimpses into the way they worked together, and their shared values. Both were very modest about their contributions, and lived modestly. John Stott lived in a small two-roomed flat, from which he worked. His Study Assistant had a desk in Stott's small bedroom - the desk had been rescued from a skip. Frances worked in a small office looking out onto a brick wall.

The book concludes with a summing-up of John Stott's and Frances Whitehead's joint legacy. This includes the founding and establishing of two global movements. Timeline, Family trees, Appendices, and over 30 photographs.

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