Hannah More

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More, Hannah (1745–1833). One of the best-known and most prolific polemicists of her day, Hannah More was born at Stapleton, near Bristol, and joined her sisters in running a school. She became acquainted with London literary circles and was a particular favourite with Dr Johnson. A poem Sir Eldred was well received (1776) and her play Percy had a good run at Covent Garden in 1777, thanks to David Garrick's support. Her growing evangelical interest was evident in Thoughts on the Importance of the Manners of the Great to General Society (1788). From her cottage at Cowslip Green, near Blagdon, south of Bristol, she started in the 1790s Sunday schools for the Mendip villages: ‘I allow of no writing for the poor,’ she told Wilberforce in a memorable phrase. Meanwhile the outbreak of the French Revolution gave her a chance to write simple and didactic tracts, in which the poor were invited to count their blessings, and which sold and were distributed in vast quantities. She died a wealthy woman, leaving her money to religious institutions and charities.

J. A. Cannon

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Hannah More, 1745–1833, English author and social reformer. She was educated, and later taught, at her sisters' school for girls in Bristol. At the age of 22 she became engaged to William Turner, a wealthy squire 20 years older than she; he never married her, but settled an annuity on her that made her financially independent. She became a friend of many of the notable figures of her time and was one of the bluestockings. Her two ethical tragedies, Percy and Fatal Falsehood, were produced by Garrick in 1777 and 1779, respectively. Turning to religious and philanthropic works, she wrote Thoughts on the Importance of the Manners of the Great to General Society (1788) and was instrumental in founding (1799) the Religious Tract Society. In the area of Wrington she established Sunday schools in which the poor were taught reading, personal hygiene, and religion. In 1808 her pious but popular novel Coelebs in Search of a Wife appeared. Her writing is of little interest today, with the exception of her vivacious and highly informative letters, which were published in 1834.

See studies by M. A. Hopkins (1947) and M. G. Jones (1952).