The Popish Midwife

The Popish Midwife

King Charles II: "We have plots and plots! Plots in the taverns, plots in the coffee houses… I am verily the most murdered king in England!"

Pierre Cellier: ‘What? Another plot? Are there not, even now, more plots than there are kings?’ Pierre laughed, until he realised I did not.

At a time of political, religious and social upheaval, Elizabeth Cellier – a strong, independent and bold seventeenth century midwife – gives alms to victims of religious persecution. In prison she falls in with a debtor, Willoughby, who draws her unwittingly into the famous Popish Plot. But she’s no easy mark. At a time when women are expected to be subservient, she risks her life and brazens her way out of all kinds of trouble to become a voice for truth, justice and safer midwife practice.

The Popish Midwife is the true story of a woman far ahead of her time.

“Fascinating read… This is a brilliant book, well written and difficult to put down.” – M.C.

“Immersive, relevant to today… Vividly and beautifully written, the language of the day ringing throughout… an enthralling read for those who believe in equality and social justice. As historical fiction, it immerses you in the era; as a biography, it tells a great story...
To Ms. Cellier for her courage, and to Ms. Christensen for introducing this modern world to Elizabeth Cellier, I can only say "Bravo!" - S.N.

“A great holiday read! …I was drawn in right from the start. It is easy to imagine the suspicion, prejudice and fragility of life at that time… reflects a significant period in our history… would appeal to those who enjoy a good story, history or biographies.” – M.G.

“With judicious historical authenticity, Annelisa Christensen presents us with a remarkable tale of mistrust, falsehoods and betrayal… Cellier’s story is beautifully-written; her indefatigable heroism and the dialogue of the period are perfectly realised by the author… a deeply humane book… splendid read that had me rooting for The Popish Midwife from start to finish.
A praiseworthy début by English author, Annelisa Christensen.” – K.A.

“In a word... Captivating! The Popish Midwife is an extraordinary read… From the stench & squalor of Newgate, to the opulent splendour of St James's Palace. You're there, right amongst it, a 17th century time-warp… A wonderful tale of high treason, love & betrayal.” – PS

“The era of the time is brought to life by some excellent writing the realism of which made me whince here and there.” – A.M.

Readers' Favorite Extracts

(full reviews can be found on my Editorial Reviews page):

Historical fiction buffs will love The Popish Midwife, but it is written in first person, as if it were a memoir. That, for me, makes what Annelisa Christensen has achieved in this book even more impressive: it has all the requirements of great historical fiction, including an adherence to the language of the 1600s, but it is touching and real the way a well-written memoir should be. The author spent years researching her story and her attention to detail and fact, the historical period, customs, and dialects give The Popish Midwife authenticity. But it is Annelisa Christensen's considerable writing talent that makes this an absorbing, worthwhile read even for those who, like me, aren't fans of historical fiction, but love a well-written story that keeps one turning the pages and wondering what will happen next. Highly recommended. - 5 stars! from Viga Boland for Readers’ Favorite

The solid first person POV narrative, plot and pace will ensure that readers find it very difficult to put the book down. Christensen brings a great sense of detail to the settings. One could be easily transported to the muddy and dangerous streets of London, and feel the fear that the Catholics have to bear. The characters, both the protagonists and antagonists, are also well-drawn. Simply put, The Popish Midwife is one of the best historical novels that I’ve read. It’s highly immersive, offering readers a look at an important period of England history, serving as a great reminder of the dark times in the past, where injustice is an arduous beast to contain even until today. - 5 stars! from Lit Amri for Readers’ Favorite

The Popish Midwife by Annelisa Christensen was an extremely well written novel. I have to say that I really enjoyed reading about Elizabeth Cellier; she was a strong female character who could take care of herself and went out of her way to help others. I think my favorite part of The Popish Midwife was when I got to the end and figured out that it was only book one in the Seventeenth Century Midwives series. I finished The Popish Midwife in one day, all at once, and I am excited to get my hands on the second book in the series! - 5 stars! from Sefina Hawke for Readers’ Favorite

Annelisa Christensen has told the story of Elizabeth Cellier in very direct and heartfelt detail. The Popish Midwife will take you along on the journey of a very difficult time for Christians. I found this book to be a real history lesson while still being an enjoyable story and, though at times the reading was slow, it was very never boring. I think this is a must-read for all fans of stories of historical people and events. - 4 stars from Trudi LoPreto for Readers’ Favorite

The Popish Midwife is a very engaging story and kept me reading to the end in one go. The life of Elizabeth Cellier has been brought alive through these pages and I could actually feel myself being present in seventeenth-century England. The plight of women in general, as second class citizens with fewer rights, has been well portrayed. The dangers and high mortality rate of women during childbirth is something that is easily forgotten, but this book reminds us of that as Elizabeth is a midwife. Indeed, reading this book is like taking a walk into history. This was a fascinating and inspiring read for me into a bygone era and one that I would definitely recommend. 5 stars! from Gisela Dixon for Readers’ Favorite

ThePopishMidwife by @Alpha_Annelisa is the best book I have read in a long time 💜 / If you buy 1 book this year, make it this. –  DKTL [Twitter]

I've read the sample… I can't wait to dig into it! #ThePopishMidwife is just brilliant! Next on my list!! –  SMI [Twitter]

… a remarkable debut novel–  KA [Twitter]

I read a few pages--wonderful!  –  JG [Twitter]

Now available for your autumn read!

Why I wrote The Popish Midwife : The Popish Midwife was a happy accident... how I learnt about Elizabeth Cellier and ended up writing the book.

A bit more about myself and the Popish Midwife, interviews at:

Read The Popish Midwife and discover seventeenth century plots, plots and more plots:

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Coming Soon to subscribers:

The Big Fat Popish Midwife Quiz of the Year

Have fun testing your seventeenth century knowledge
(or guess the answers!)

Here's a snippet -

True or False?
  • During a birth, a fire was lit to keep evil spirits away.
  • Elizabeth Cellier was a witch.
  • The rich ate frogs for breakfast.
  • Men commonly smoked pipes made out of a smoked glass from France.
  • Elizabeth Cellier acted as Midwife to King Charles II first wife, Margaret
...and over a hundred other questions!


  1. And now we have three copies of The Popish Midwife for three winners at The Popish Midwife Giveaway.
    The more points you gain, the more entries you have to win! :-D

  2. Yessss! I love stories about real people in history. This is gonna be a great read, I just know it.

  3. Elizabeth Cellier's story is definitely a good one - and I agree. Fiction is a great way to learn a bit of history. This story is true, and I've included as much of her own words as I could :-)