Hannah More: Wikis


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Hannah More

Hannah More engraving after the painting by H.W. Pickersgill in the National Portrait Gallery of Illustrious and Eminent Personages of the Nineteenth Century by William Jerdan Vol 3 of 4, London: Fisher, Son, & Jackson, 1832
Born 2 February 1745(1745-02-02)
Fishponds, Bristol, United Kingdom
Died 7 September 1833 (aged 88)
Clifton, Bristol, United Kingdom
Resting place Wrington, Somerset
Residence Bristol
Nationality English
Occupation Poet
Years active 1733-1831
Known for Poetry

Hannah More (2 February 1745 – 7 September 1833) was an English religious writer and philanthropist. She can be said to have made three reputations in the course of her long life: as a clever verse-writer and witty talker in the circle of Johnson, Reynolds and Garrick, as a writer on moral and religious subjects, and as a practical philanthropist.


Early life

Born in 1745 at Fishponds in the parish of Stapleton, near Bristol, Hannah More was the fourth of five daughters of Jacob More, who, though from a Presbyterian family in Norfolk, had become a member of the Church of England, a strong Tory and a schoolmaster at Stapleton in Gloucestershire. In 1756 Hannah More's eldest sister, Mary, established a boarding school at 6 Trinity Street in Bristol which after a few years moved to Park Street. More became a pupil when she was twelve years old, and taught there in her early adulthood.


Hannah More's first literary efforts were pastoral plays, suitable for young ladies to act, the first being written in 1762 under the title of The Search after Happiness; by the mid-1780s over 10,000 copies had been sold.[1] Metastasio was one of her literary models; on his opera of Attilio Regulo she based a drama, The Inflexible Captive.

More (standing, left, as a personification of Melpomene, muse of tragedy), in the company of other "Bluestockings" (1778).

In 1767 More gave up her share in the school after becoming engaged to William Turner of Wraxall, Somerset. The wedding never took place, however, and after much reluctance, Hannah More was induced to accept a £200 annuity from Turner. This set her free for literary pursuits, and in the winter of 1773–74 she went to London. Some verses that she had written on David Garrick's version of Lear led to an acquaintance with the celebrated actor and playwright; soon More had also met Elizabeth Montagu and Joshua Reynolds. Within a short time More had associated herself with Samuel Johnson, Edmund Burke and London's literary elite. Garrick wrote the prologue and epilogue for her tragedy Percy, which was acted with great success at Covent Garden in December 1777.

Another drama, The Fatal Falsehood, produced in 1779 after Garrick's death, was less successful. In 1781 she made the acquaintance of Horace Walpole, and corresponded with him from that time. At Bristol she discovered Ann Yearsley (1753–1806), a milkwoman and poet, and raised a considerable sum of money for her benefit. Lactilia, as Yearsley was called, published Poems, on Several Occasions in 1785, earning about £600. More and Montagu held the profits in trust to protect them from Yearsley's husband: Anne Yearsley wished to receive the capital, and made insinuations of stealing against More, forcing her to release the money. These literary and social failures caused More's withdrawal from London's intellectual circles.

Evangelical moralist

Hannah More published Sacred Dramas in 1782 and it rapidly ran through nineteen editions. These and the poems Bas-Bleu and Florio (1786) mark her gradual transition to more serious views of life, which were fully expressed in prose, in her Thoughts on the Importance of the Manners of the Great to General Society (1788), and An Estimate of the Religion of the Fashionable World (1790). By this point she was intimate with William Wilberforce and Zachary Macaulay, with whose evangelical views she was in sympathy. She published a poem on Slavery in 1788, and was for many years a friend of Beilby Porteus, Bishop of London and a leading abolitionist, who drew her into the group of prominent campaigners against the slave trade such as William Wilberforce, Charles Middleton and James Ramsay, based at Teston, Kent.

In 1785 she bought a house, at Cowslip Green, near Wrington, in northern Somerset, where she settled down to country life with her sister Martha, and wrote many ethical books and tracts: Strictures on Female Education (1799), Hints towards forming the Character of a Young Princess (1805), Coelebs in Search of a Wife (only nominally a story, 1809), Practical Piety (1811), Christian Morals (1813), Character of St Paul (1815), Moral Sketches (1819). She was a rapid writer, and her work is consequently discursive, animated and formless. The originality and force of More's writings perhaps explains her extraordinary popularity. At the behest of Porteus, she wrote many spirited rhymes and prose tales, the earliest of which was Village Politics, by Will Chip (1792), intended to counteract the doctrines of Thomas Paine and the influence of the French Revolution. More became a prominent opponent of the slave trade in the late 18th century.[2]

The success of Village Politics induced More and Porteus to begin the series of Cheap Repository Tracts, which from 1795 to 1797 were produced at the rate of three a month. Perhaps the most famous of these is The Shepherd of Salisbury Plain, describing a family of phenomenal frugality and contentment. This was translated into several languages. Two million copies of these rapid and telling sketches were circulated, in one year, teaching the poor in rhetoric of most ingenious homeliness to rely upon the virtues of content, sobriety, humility, industry, reverence for the British Constitution, hatred of the French, trust in God and in the kindness of the gentry.

Blue Plaque on the wall of Keepers Cottage, Brislington.


In the late-1780s Hannah and Martha More conducted philanthropic work in the Mendip area, following encouragement by William Wilberforce who saw the poor conditions of the locals when he visited Cheddar in 1789.[3] She was instrumental in setting up twelve schools by 1800 where reading, the Bible and the catechism — but not writing — were taught to local children. The More sisters met with a good deal of opposition in their works: the farmers thought that education, even to the limited extent of learning to read, would be fatal to agriculture, and the clergy, whose neglect she was making good, accused her of Methodist tendencies. In her old age, philanthropists from all parts made pilgrimages to see the bright and amiable old lady, and she retained all her faculties until within two years of her death. She spent the last five years of her life in Clifton, and died on 7 September, 1833. She is buried at Church of All Saints, Wrington.


The Hannah More Academy at Reisterstown, Maryland was named in her honor.


  1. ^ S. J. Skedd, 'More, Hannah (1745–1833)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004)
  2. ^ "PortCities Bristol". www.discoveringbristol.org.uk. http://www.discoveringbristol.org.uk/showNarrative.php?sit_id=1&narId=346&nacId=349. Retrieved 15 April 2009.  
  3. ^ Coysh, A.W.; E.J. Mason & V. Waite (1977). The Mendips. London: Robert Hale Ltd. ISBN 0709164262.  



Primary sources

  • More, Hannah. Works of Hannah More. 2 vols. New York: Harper, 1840.


  • Collingwood, Jeremy and Margaret. Hannah More. Oxford: Lion Publishing, 1990.
  • Demers, Patricia. The World of Hannah More. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1996.
  • Ford, Charles Howard. Hannah More: A Critical Biography. New York: Peter Lang, 1996.
  • Harland, Marion. Hannah More. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1900.
  • Hopkins, Mary Alden. Hannah More and Her Circle. London: Longmans, 1947.
  • Jones, M. G. Hannah More Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1952.
  • Knight, Helen C. Hannah More; or, Life in Hall and Cottage. New York: M. W. Dodd, 1851.
  • Kowaleski-Wallace, Elizabeth. Their Fathers’ Daughters: Hannah More, Maria Edgeworth, and Patriarchal Complicity. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.
  • Roberts, William, ed. Memoirs of Mrs Hannah More. New York: Harper & Bros., 1836.
  • Stott, Anne. Hannah More: The First Victorian. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.
  • Taylor, Thomas. Memoir of Mrs. Hannah More. London: Joseph Rickerby, 1838.
  • Thompson, Henry. The Life of Hannah More With Notices of Her Sisters. London: T. Cadell, 1838.
  • Yonge, Charlotte. Hannah More. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1888.

Other secondary sources

  • Elliott, Dorice Williams. "The Care of the Poor Is Her Profession: Hannah More and Women's Philanthropic Work." Nineteenth-Century Contexts 19 (1995): 179–204.
  • Kelly, Gary. "Revolution, Reaction, and the Expropriation of Popular Culture: Hannah More's Cheap Repository." Man and Nature 6 (1987): 147–59.
  • Myers, Mitzi. "Hannah More's Tracts for the Times: Social Fiction and Female Ideology." Fetter'd or Free? British Women Novelists, 1670–1815. Eds. Mary Anne Schofield and Cecilia Macheski. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1986.
  • Myers, Mitzi. "Reform or Ruin: 'A Revolution in Female Manners.'" Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture 11 (1982): 199–216.
  • Nardin, Jane. "Hannah More and the Rhetoric of Educational Reform." Women's History Review 10 (2001): 211–27.
  • Nardin, Jane. "Hannah More and the Problem of Poverty." Texas Studies in Language and Literature 43 (2001): 267–84.
  • Pickering, Samuel. "Hannah More's Coelebs in Search of a Wife and the Respectability of the Novel in the Nineteenth Century." Neuphilologische Mitteilungen 78 (1977): 78–85.
  • Scheuerman, Mona. In Praise of Poverty: Hannah More Counters Thomas Paine and the Radical Threat. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2002.
  • Sutherland, Kathryn. "Hannah More's Counter-Revolutionary Feminism." Revolution in Writing: British Literary Responses to the French Revolution. Ed. Kelvin Everest. Milton Keynes: Open University Press, 1991.
  • Vallone, Lynne. "'A humble Spirit under Correction': Tracts, Hymns, and the Ideology of Evangelical Fiction for Children, 1780–1820." The Lion and the Unicorn 15 (1991) 72–95.

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Hannah More (2 February 17457 September 1833) was an English religious writer and philanthropist.


  • The keen spirit
    Seizes the prompt occasion, makes the thought
    Start into instant action, and at once
    Plans and performs, resolves and executes!
    • Daniel.
  •   ...   There's a joy,
    To the fond votaries of fame unknown,
    To hear the still small voice of conscience speak
    In whisp'ring plaudit to the silent soul.
    • David and Goliath, Pt. I
  • To those who know thee not, no words can paint!
    And those who know thee, know all words are faint!
    • Sensibility.
  • Since trifles make the sum of human things,
    And half our misery from our foibles springs.
    • Sensibility.
  • In men this blunder still you find,—
    All think their little set mankind.
    • Florio, Part i.
  • Small habits well pursued betimes
    May reach the dignity of crimes.
    • Florio, Part i.


  • Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.

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