Always known as Maude Royden, she was born at Mossley Hill, Liverpool, the daughter of Sir Thomas Bland Royden, 1st Baronet, of Frankby Hall, Birkenhead. She was educated at Cheltenham Ladies' College and Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, and afterwards for some years did settlement work in Liverpool.
She also lectured on English Literature for the university extension movement, and in 1909 was elected to the executive committee of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies. From 1912 to 1914 she edited the Common Cause, the organ of the union.
She broke with the NUWSS over its support for the war effort. She became the secretary of the Fellowship of Reconciliation with other Christian pacifists. Although unable to travel to the women's peace congress in the Hague in 1915, when the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom was established there, she became the vice-president.
In a 1917 speech she used the oft-cited phrase: "The Church [of England] should go forward along the path of progress and be no longer satisfied only to represent the Conservative Party at prayer."
Miss Royden became well known as a speaker on social and religious subjects, and in 1917 became assistant preacher at the City Temple in London, being thus the first woman to occupy this office.
After World War I, Royden's interest shifted to the role of women in the Church. In 1929 she began the official campaign for the ordination of women when she founded the Society for the Ministry of Women. The first woman to become Doctor of Divinity in 1931, Royden made several worldwide preaching tours from the 1920s to the 1940s.
In 1939, she renounced pacifism believing Nazism to be a greater evil than war.
In 1944, she married the recently widowed Reverend Hudson Shaw whom she had loved for more than forty years.
Books by Royden
- Downward paths (1916)
- Women and the sovereign state (1917)
- Sex and common-sense (1922)
- Prayer as a force (1923)
- Beauty in Religion (1923)
- Christ triumphant (1924)
- Church and woman (1924)
- Life's little pitfalls (1925)
- Here--and hereafter (1933)
- Problem of Palestine (1939)
- I Believe in God (1927)
- Women's Partnership in the New World (1941)
- The Threefold Cord (1947), autobiography
- Fred R. Shapiro, ed., The Yale Book of Quotations (Yale University Press, 2006), 654
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- The Women's Library at the Library of the London School of Economics
- The papers of Agnes Maude Royden
- Works by Agnes Maude Royden at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about Maude Royden in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Maude Royden: A Life by Sheila Fletcher
- WATCH Celebrated Women