Monk, Maria

Maria Monk, (b at Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Qué 1817 to Scottish parents; d half-mad in the prison on Blackwell's I [Welfare I] 1849), author of The Awful Disclosures of the Hôtel Dieu Nunnery of Montreal. A difficult child, her mother sent her to a Montréal shelter in 1834, from which, pregnant, she was expelled the following year. Having fled to the US, she became the centre of the nativist anti-Catholic controversy upon the publication of the book she wrote describing the horrors she suffered while a nun in Hôtel-Dieu in Montréal. The success of the book set off a furious debate between its partisans and adversaries. William L. Stone went to Montréal to get to the bottom of it and visited the Hôtel-Dieu: it became evident that Maria Monk had never set foot in the place. Stone's refutation and the publication of sworn testimonies gathered in Montréal put an end to the credibility of Monk's pamphlet though not to its distribution: 300 000 copies were circulated before the American Civil War.