|Octagon Unitarian Chapel, Norwich|
|Silhouette of Amelia in 1790s|
|Mary Wollstonecraft by John Opie|
|Amelia Opie painted by her husband|
She began attending Quaker meetings in 1814 and gradually became convinced that here, rather than in the Unitarianism of her upbringing, was the vital religion that she sought. In 1820 her father fell ill and she nursed him until his death five years later. Throughout this time the Gurneys were a great support to them and Dr Alderson fully approved Amelia's application for membership which was accepted two months before his death, so much so that he was himself buried in the Quaker burial ground at Gildencroft.
There were certain changes that Amelia undertook when she became a Quaker at the age of fifty six. The chief of these was that she gave up novel writing and afterwards wrote only upon serious, factual and moral subjects. She also adopted the Quaker plain speech and plain dress, but with a style of her own. Emma Marshall remembers that her Quaker bonnet was small and perched somewhat coquettishly on her head, and the train of her silk gown made a 'swish' upon the matting as she came into meeting.
|Amelia Opie in Quaker dress|
Amelia was financially comfortable and able to travel widely, always delighting in the company of others from whatever level of society they came. She was an inveterate correspondent, often writing more than six letters a day. Every year she came to London to attend the Yearly Meeting. As she said in 1843, 'Yearly Meeting has engrossed me much as usual, for I never missed one sitting since I obtained the great privilege of belonging to it '. This record remained unbroken for nearly thirty years until ill-health prevented her attendance.
|Amelia Opie's house on Castle Meadow, Norwich|
Amelia Opie's life was full of contrasts and she sometimes appeared a rather worldly Friend, but coming to Quakerism at a later age she valued the Society highly and tried her best to live up to its standards. Perhaps her friend the poet Robert Southey put it best when he said that she embraced Quakerism 'not losing in the change her warmth of heart and cheerfulness of spirit, nor gaining by it any increase of sincerity and frankness, for with these nature had endued her and society, even of the great, had not corrupted them.'