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Educator, abolitionist, poet and writer are just a few titles that Hannah More held. While examining her work, one can truly see her passion for what she believed in. She shared her beliefs with other women and encouraged them to use their voices for change. [Hannah More] was one of the most successful writers, and perhaps the most influential woman, of her day. The author’s writings influenced thousands even in today’s time. However, did history forget about Hannah and her accomplishments? If she was an influencer in the education system, why are students not learning about her role? One may argue she was targeting a specific audience and her teachings may be outdated.
To an extent this may be true, however there is always something to learn when doing research. We will be digging through research, beliefs, teachings etc. to show that Hannah More was more than just another Victorian influencer; she is still worthy of learning from.
A brief introduction of the author is always a good start.
It is important to find out the historical character’s background. Here we can learn what influenced her to become the woman she turned out to be. Hannah More was born into a religious household in a village called Fishponds in 1745 to Jacob and Mary Grace More. The seeds of love for education was planted by her oldest sister Mary, whom opened an all-girls school where Hannah would first attend and later become a teacher at the same institution. When Hannah was about seventeen years old, she wrote her first piece called The Search After Happiness.
Her love for plays developed. After ending a six-year engagement, she took the money she earned from her ex-fiancé and took a chance on becoming a writer. She quit her career as an educator and pursued her dream.
Unfortunately, she did not make it as a play writer. Due to a loss of a friend who inspired her to write plays, she stopped writing poetry and plays for the theatre. However, she moved on to her next dream. She joined a called, The Bluestockings. In the 1750s, [several] wealthy, intellectual women started to hold literary parties at their London houses. Although the bluestocking gatherings were hosted by women, they were open to people of both sexes and drew together people from different backgrounds. Their aim was to provide a setting where women could expand their knowledge by conversing freely with other women and men of learning. The blue stockings referred to were blue [outdone] stockings, everyday rather than evening wear. The implication was that conversation was more [significant] than fashion and informal dress was acceptable. The Bluestockings influenced her poem called, Le Blas Bleu. In the poem, Hannah More celebrated the ‘electric’ quality of bluestocking debate and described the moral and educational goals of bluestocking sociability in forming a new space for learned women, in which ‘our intellectual ore must shine’. In a period when educated discussion was taken as an index of civilized society, Hannah More proclaimed conversation to be ‘That noblest commerce of mankind/ Whose precious merchandise is mind!’
The writer also had a part in the French Revolution:
She wrote a number of social and moral tracts in which she urged her readers to establish moral laws in order to counter the detrimental influence of the French Revolution, which perverted the concept of individual freedom and man’s rights. Although recent criticism has shown ambivalence in More’s writings, it can be argued that her social and moral tracts anticipated a public debate about the state of the nation, which was called later by Thomas Carlyle the Condition-of-England Question
During the French revolution, Hannah was considered to be one of the most popular author for works on propaganda during the late 1790s. She wrote a number of social and moral tracts in which she urged her readers to establish moral laws in order to counter the detrimental influence of the French Revolution, which perverted the concept of individual freedom and man’s rights. Although recent criticism has shown ambivalence in More’s writings, it can be argued that her social and moral tracts anticipated a public debate about the state of the nation, which was called later by Thomas Carlyle the Condition-of-England Question.
Hannah More’s main audience was made up of the working-class and a large group of women. She wrote short poems, plays and even novels to reach this group of people. [Hannah] urged her readers to establish moral laws in order to counter the detrimental influence of the French Revolution, which perverted the concept of individual freedom and man’s rights. She wanted to spread an anti-slavery movement, promote the role of women in the family circle and last but not least, to better the morals of society.
In her time, Hannah More was a devout evangelist. Her role as a Christian woman understood males had the responsibility of headship in the family. His role as a husband, father and man were to, not only have the final say when it came to making decisions and provide by financial means, but to make sure his family grew in a spiritual sense. The woman’s role in the family was to educate while caring for the children, setting examples worthy of following for her children to become role-model citizens, and to submit to their husband. Keeping this in mind, Hannah respected the role that came with being the head of the family. She did not contest male supremacy but advocated a reform of education for women. [Instead,] she argued that women’s virtues could be much better [proficient] if young women were given an education more [suitable] to their future roles. More insisted that women’s education should focus upon the inculcation of Christian principles of benevolence and charity. What Hannah would like to promote is a good Christian wife. Hannah protests:
One would be led to imagine, by the common mode of female education, that life consisted of one universal holiday, and that the only contest was, who should be best enabled to excel in the sports and games that were to be celebrated on it. Merely ornamental accomplishments will but indifferently qualify a woman to perform the duties of life, though it is highly proper she should possess them, to furnish the amusements of it. But is it right to spend so large a portion of life without some preparation for the business of living? A lady may speak a little French and Italian, repeat a few passages in a theatrical tone, play and sing, have her dressing-room hung with her own drawings, and her person covered with her own tambour work, and may, notwithstanding, have been very badly educated. Yet I am far from attempting to depreciate the value of these qualifications: they are most of them not only highly becoming, but often indispensably necessary, and a polite education cannot be perfected without them. But as the world seems to be very well apprised of their importance, there is the less occasion to insist on their utility. Yet, though well-bred young women should learn to dance, sing, recite and draw, the end of a good education is not that they may become dancers, singers, players or painters: its real object is to make them good daughters, good wives, good mistresses, good members of society, and good Christians. The above qualifications therefore are intended to adorn their leisure, not to employ their lives; for an amiable and wise woman will always have something better to value herself on, then these advantages, which, however captivating, are still but subordinate parts of a truly excellent character.
One may say Hannah is trying to set the difference between knowing what a young ladies’ duties are and claiming they are a distraction to what they are teaching the young lady. Hannah shows that women’s ideas get lost when practicing certain things such as dance to “become dancers,” for an example, but to improve their morals and value in the society. Maintaining a respectable reputation mattered the most to females growing up this era. As one recalls, Hannah was a dedicated educator, even to the poor:
She tried to persuade local farmers that the education of destitute children would prove beneficial for all the classes of society. In Sunday schools the destitute children of farm [laborers], miners and glass-workers were taught how to read in order that they might learn Christian morals and acquire some practical skills which would give them subsistence in adult life. As a fervent Christian and stern moralist, Hannah strongly believed that good moral habits and virtuous characters would contribute to the reform of English society.
A strong abolitionist was also one of Hannah More’s many titles. The philanthropist then joined the Claphem sect, which they do not agree with slavery. One of the members is a fellow named William Wilberforce whom became good companions with Hannah. William Wilberforce and Hannah were both moved by their faith in Christianity to take part in anti-slavery movements. William wrote many books on the subject and with the help of other abolitionists, the Claphem sect was able to get the public’s attention by creating rallies, protesting and making pamphlets to hand out. He too supported Sunday School observance with Hannah. [His] goal was to provide all children with regular education in reading, personal hygiene and religion. In fact, he was the one to encourage Hannah into opening a Sunday school.
Hannah and her sister Mary, along with William, started Sunday school to help children learn to read. This is a job that cannot be done alone:
I am far from assuming to myself, to have fulfilled the duty of this weighty undertaking; and I shall be ambitious of no other fruit from this weak and imperfect attempt of mine, but the opening of a way to the courage and industry of some other persons, who may be better able to perform it thoroughly and successfully.
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