Hannah More Biography (1745-1833)

Hannah More was born on 2 February 1745 at Fishponds, near Bristol. She was not only an English religious writer and philanthropist but also remembered as a poet and playwright in the circle of Johnson, Reynolds, and Garrison.

She was also a writer on moral and religious subjects, as well as a practical philanthropist.

The Early Life of Hannah More

She was taught in the school that was begun by her father. At a young age, she started writing plays. In London, she got involved with the literary elite.

Hannah More by Henry William Pickersgill
Hannah More by Henry William Pickersgill, oil on canvas, 1821

Also,  she was a leading member of the Bluestocking group. As soon as the plays and poetry became more evangelical, she joined a group of campaigners against the slave trade.

Hannah More Biography

For distribution to the literate poor, she wrote various Cheap Repository Tracts moral, religious and political topics in the 1970s. Meanwhile, she was encouraged by William Wilberforce to increase philanthropic work in the Mendip area.

Hannah More was the fourth of five daughters of Jacob More who was a schoolmaster originally from Harleston, Norfolk.

Hannah More Biography

This family was very close and the sisters received their first education from their father. He taught them Latin as well as mathematics.

Hannah More Writings

The elder sister of Hannah taught her French. Moreover,  her conversational French got improved due to spending time with French prisoners of war in Frenchay during the Seven Years’ War.

She was very keen to learn and possessed a sharp intellect. At an early age,  she starting writing.

Hannah More School

Her father started his own girls’ boarding school at Trinity Street in Bristol in 1758 for the elder sisters, Mary and Elizabeth to run, while he and his wife moved to a place, Stony Hill to open a school for boys.

When she was 12 years old, she became a pupil and in her early adulthood,  she taught at school.

Hannah More
Hannah More

After getting engaged to William Turner of Tyntesfield, Wraxall, Somerset in 1767, she gave up her share in the school. She met him when he started teaching her cousins.

In 1773, this engagement was called off and due to this she suffered a nervous breakdown and preferred to spend some time in Uphill, near Weston-super-Mare, recuperating.

Village Politics by Hannah More

She was a well-connected writer. Hannah More was also a reformer and one of the most prominent women of the pre-Victorian age.

Hannah More
Hannah More

She was an evangelical Christian who used to believe that good moral conduct is necessary to form a good society.  She furthermore campaigned against slavery and promoted education for the poor.

Hannah More Books

She published “Village Politics in 1792. This book is a counter to the pro-revolutionary “Rights of Man  by Tom Paine.

This book is addressed to all the mechanics, journeymen and day laborers that were present in Great Britain. This book was a great success and millions of copies were sold.

Playwright

While she was teaching at the school, she wrote her first literary efforts which were pastoral plays suitable for young ladies to act.

Her first play was written in 1762 under the title of The Search after Happiness and 10,000 copies were sold during the mid-1780s. One of her literary models is Metastasio on which she based a drama, The Inflexible Captive.

The Search After Happiness by Hannah More
The Search After Happiness by Hannah More

Moreover,  she became one of the important members of the Bluestocking group of women who were engaged in polite conversation and literary and intellectual pursuits.

Hannah More Poems

This group used to attend the salon of Elizabeth Montagu and there she met and became acquainted with Frances Boscawen, Elizabeth Carter, Elizabeth Vesey, and Hester Chapone, some of them became lifelong friends.

Hannah More Biography

In her 1782 poem,  she mentioned a witty celebration of her friends and the circle to which they belonged. The poem is The Bas Bleu, or, Conversation, which was published in 1784.

She also wrote other poems such as “The Hackney Coachman: Or the Way to Get a Good Fare”, “Slavery” and much more.

Evangelical Moralist

In the 1780s, she became friends with James Oglethorpe, who had long been concerned with slavery as a moral issue.

Furthermore, in an abolitionist capacity,  he was working with Granville Sharp. Sacred Dramas was published in 1782 and fastly it ran through nineteen editions.

Hannah More Facts

The poems mark her gradual transition to more serious views of life, and all of them were fully expressed in prose. In 1788, she published a poem based on Slavery.

More of her work is 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).

Thoughts on the Importance of the Manners of the Great to General Society
Thoughts on the Importance of the Manners of the Great to General Society

Hannah More was a rapid writer, and her work is consequently discursive, animated and formless. After spending the last five years of her life in Clifton, she died on 7 September 1833.

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