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Hannah More : her message and her method Andrews, Margaret Winters

Abstract

Hannah More (1745-1833), the daughter of an impoverished gentleman-schoolmaster, rose through charm and literary-talent into the brilliant London literary society of the last quarter of the eighteenth century. In middle age she became an Evangelical and joined the "Clapham Saints" in their campaigns for "vital religion" and for reformation of manners and morals. She made her contribution through the establishment of Sunday and day schools for the poor in the Mendip Hills of Somerset, and through the composition of "improving" books for rich and poor. These didactic works were vehicles for her social and religious philosophy, and Hannah More intended that they should be the means for conversion to these ideas. Her traditional and conservative social philosophy saw society as an organic, hierarchical structure, cemented by deference and paternalism. Her religion was part of the broader evangelical revival and stressed deep personal commitment, scripturalism, missionary zeal, and regular religious duties. Her method of persuasion ignored industrialization and assumed that Englishmen of various ranks still accepted the traditional social framework; at the same time it played upon the fears and privations of the moment which grew from the industrial and French revolutions, and from the Napoleonic Wars.

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