“She was a woman with virtues and flaws, faith and fears, vision and blind spots. But she was also one whose unique gifts and fierce convictions transformed first her life and subsequently her world and ours.”
Have you ever heard of Hannah More? I had not, until recently, when I read a short biography of hers in 7 Women and the Secret of their Greatness by Eric Metaxas. She influenced her time by writing books, plays and pamphlets, opening and running schools and setting an example of moral behavior among the cultural elite of her day. After reading about her, I wondered why I hadn’t heard of her before (almost to the degree that I couldn’t believe I had never come across The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom until I was an adult).
If Karen Swallow Prior had not written this biography, Eric Metaxas would have added it to his list of books to write. I have read several of his books and they are always well-written and full of good information. Prior does great research into what is known for sure about Hannah More and what is traditional, but maybe not true, beliefs about her life.
More was not born to any station, but she was very bright and against the standards of the day, her parents taught her all the subjects at home, including science and mathematics. She had four sisters and when the older ones were old enough, they opened a school for women, which she attended and then taught at. Teaching was one profession allowed for unmarried women in the 18th century. More began to write and a play with a moral theme was eventually put on in London. People started looking forward to her writings and she was accepted into an elite circle. She then used her influence to promote the cause of slavery abolition. Her role was to influence the culture while others influenced politics. She ended up seeing slavery outlawed before she died.
Fierce Convictions is very well researched and written. I found More’s life fascinating. Even though she had frequent bouts of sickness, she made such an impact on the world around her through her writings and by setting up schools for the poor. She shows that great influence can be found outside the political sphere.
I would highly recommend this book for anyone high school age or older. If you like history or biographies and have not heard of Hannah More, do pick up this book. You won’t regret “meeting” her.
This review was shared on An Open Book.