Hannah More (1745-1833). Portrait by Henry William Pickersgill (1782-1875), 1821. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Hannah More
Born February 2 1745(1745-Template:MONTHNUMBER-02)
Fishponds]], Bristol, England
Died September 7 1833(1833-Template:MONTHNUMBER-07) (aged 88)
Clifton, Bristol, England
Resting place Wrington, Somerset, England
Residence Bristol, London, Wrington
Nationality English
Occupation Poet, Playwright, Author, Educator
Known for Poetry, Drama, Philanthropy

Hannah More (February 2, 1745 - September 7, 1833) was an English poet, religious writer, and philanthropist.



More was one of the 5 daughters of a schoolmaster at Stapleton, Gloucestershire. The family moved to Bristol, where Hannah began her literary efforts. Some early dramas, including The Search after Happiness and the Inflexible Captive brought her before the public, and she went to London in 1774, where, through her friend, Garrick, she was introduced to Johnson, Burke, and the rest of that circle, by whom she was highly esteemed. After publishing some poems, now forgotten, and some dramas, she resolved to devote herself to efforts on behalf of social and religious amelioration, in which she was eminently successful, and exercised a wide and salutary influence. Her works written in pursuance of these objects are too numerous to mention. They included Hints towards forming the Character of a young Princess (1805), written at the request of the Queen for the benefit of the Princess Charlotte, Cœlebs in search of a Wife (1809), and a series of short tales, the Cheap Repository, among which was the well-known "Shepherd of Salisbury Plain." This enterprise, which had great success, led to the formation of the Religious Tract Society. The success of Miss More's literary labors enabled her to pass her later years in ease, and her sisters having also retired on a competency made by conducting a boarding-school in Bristol, the whole family resided on a property called Barley Grove, which they had purchased, where they carried on with much success philanthropic and educational work among the people of the neighboring district of Cheddar. Few persons have devoted their talents more assiduously to the well-being of their fellow-creatures, or with a greater measure of success.[1]

She can be said to have made 3 reputations in the course of her long life: as a poet and playwright in the circle of Johnson, Reynolds, and Garrick; as a writer on moral and religious subjects; and as a practical philanthropist.[2]


Moore was born at Stapleton, near Bristol, on 2 February 1745. She was the 2nd youngest of the 5 daughters of Jacob More, who, though a member of a Presbyterian family in Norfolk, had become a member of the English Church and a strong Tory. He taught a school at Stapleton in Gloucestershire.[2]

The elder sisters established a boarding-school at Bristol, and Hannah became one of their pupils when she was 12 years old.[2]


Her first literary efforts were pastoral plays, suitable for young ladies to act, the 1st being written in 1762, titled A Search after Happiness (2nd ed. 1773);[2] by the mid-1780's over 10,000 copies had been sold.[3] Metastasio was 1 of her literary models; on his opera of Attilio regulo she based a drama, The Inflexible Captive, published in 1774.[2]

She gave up her share in the school in view of an engagement of marriage she had contracted with a Mr. Turner. The wedding never took place, and, after much reluctance, More was induced to accept from Mr. Turner an annuity which had been settled on her without her knowledge. This set her free for literary pursuits, and in 1772 or 1775 she went to London.[2]

Some verses on Garrick's Lear led to an acquaintance with the actor-playwright; More was taken up by Elizabeth Montague; and her unaffected enthusiasm, simplicity, vivacity, and wit won the hearts of the whole Johnson set, the lexicographer himself included, although he is said to have told her that she should “consider what her flattery was worth before she choked him with it.” Garrick wrote the prologue and epilogue for her tragedy, Percy, which was acted with great success at Covent Garden in December 1777. Another drama, The Fatal Falsehood, produced in 1779 after Garrick's death, was less successful.[2]

The Garricks had induced her to live with them; and after Garrick's death she remained with his wife, first at Hampton Court, and then in the Adelphi. In 1781 she made the acquaintance of Horace Walpole, and corresponded with him from that time. At Bristol she discovered a poet in Anne Yearsley (1756-1806), a milk woman, and raised a considerable sum of money for her benefit. “Lactilla," as Mrs Yearsley was called, wished to receive the capital, and made insinuations against Miss More, who desired to hold it in trust. The trust was handed over to a Bristol merchant and eventually to the poet.[2]


More published Sacred Dramas in 1782, and it rapidly ran through 19 editions. These and the poems Bas-Bleu and Florio (1786) mark her gradual transition to more serious views of life, which were fully expressed in prose in her 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).[2]

She was intimate with Wilberforce and Zachary Macaulay, with whose evangelical views she was in entire sympathy. She published a poem on Slavery in 1788.[2] She became a prominent opponent of the slave trade in the late 18th century.[4]

In 1785 she bought a house, at Cowslip Green, near Wrington, near Bristol, where she settled down to country life, with her sister Martha, and wrote' many ethical books and tracts: Strictures on Female Education (1799), Hints towards forming the Character of a Young Princess (1805), Coelebs in Search of a Wife (only nominally a story, 1809), Practical Piety (1811), Christian Morals (1813), Character of St. Paul (1815), Moral Sketches (1819), The tone is uniformly animated; the writing fresh and vivacious; her favorite subjects the minor-self-indulgences and infirmities.[2]

She was a rapid writer, and her work is consequently discursive and formless; but there was an originality and force in her way of putting commonplace sober sense and piety that fully accounts for her extraordinary popularity.[2]

The most famous of her books was Coelebs in Search of a Wife, which had an enormous circulation among pious people. Sydney Smith attacked it with violence in the Edinburgh Review for its general priggishness. It is interesting to note that the model Stanley children have been said to be drawn from T.B. Macaulay and his sister.[2]

She also wrote many spirited rhymes and prose tales, the earliest of which was Village Politics (1792), by “Will Chip,” to counteract the doctrines of Tom Paine and the influence of the French Revolution. The success of Village Politics induced her to begin the series of “Cheap Repository Tracts,” which were for 3 years produced by Hannah and her sisters at the rate of 3 a month. Perhaps the most famous of these is The Shepherd of Salisbury Plain, describing a family of phenomenal frugality and contentment. This was translated into several languages. 2,000,000 copies of these rapid and telling sketches were circulated in a year, teaching the poor in rhetoric of most ingenious homéliness to rely upon the virtues of content, sobriety, hurnility, industry, reverence for the British Constitution, hatred of the French, trust in God and in the kindness of the gentry.[2]


Perhaps the best proof of Hannah More's sterling worth was her indefatigable philanthropic work — her long-continued exertions to improve the condition of the children in the mining districts of the Mendip Hills near her home at Cowslip Green and Barley Wood,[5] following encouragement by Wilberforce, who saw the poor conditions of the locals when he visited Cheddar in 1789.[6]

She was instrumental in setting up twelve schools by 1800 where reading, the Bible, and the catechism — but not writing — were taught to local children. More also donated money to Bishop Philander Chase for the founding of Kenyon College.[7] The More sisters met with a good deal of opposition in their good works. The farmers thought that education, even to the limited extent of learning to read, would be fatal to agriculture, and the clergy, whose neglect she was making good, accused her of Methodist tendencies.[5]

In her old age, philanthropists from all parts made pilgrimages to see the bright and amiable old lady, and she retained all her faculties till within two years of her death, dying at Clifton, where the last 5 years of her life were spent, on the 7th of September 1833.adulthood.[5]



The Hannah More Academy at Reisterstown, Maryland, was named in her honor.

Publications Edit


  • Ode to Dragon, Mr Garrick's house-dog at Hampton. London: T. Cadell, 1777.
  • Florio: A tale for fine gentlemen and fine ladies; and the Bas bleu, or conversation: Two poems. London: T. Cadell, 1786.
  • Slavery: A poem. London: T. Cadell, 1788.
  • Poems. London: T. Cadell & W. Davies, 1816; Boston: Wells & Lilly, 1817.
  • Bible Rhymes on the Names of All the Books of the Old and New Testaments. London: T. Cadell, 1821.
  • Poetical Works. London: Scott, Webster, & Geary, 1838.


  • A Search after Happiness: A pastoral drama, by a young lady. Bristol, UK: S. Farley, et al, 1773.
  • The Inflexible Captive: A tragedy. Bristol, UK: S. Farley, et al, 1774.
  • Percy: A tragedy. London: T. Cadell, 1778.
  • The Fatal Falsehood: A tragedy. London: T. Cadell, 1779.

Short fictionEdit

  • Sir Eldred of the Bower / The Bleeding Rock: Two legendary tales. London: T. Cadell, 1776.
  • Stories for the Middle Ranks of Society, and Tales for the common people. (2 volumes) London: T. Cadell & W. Davies, 1818.


8Essays on Various Subjects: Principally designed for young ladies. London: J. Wilkie & T. Cadell, 1777; Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1777.

  • Thoughts on the Importance of the Manners of the Great to General Society. London: T. Cadell, 1788.
  • Bishop Bonner's Ghost. Twickenham, UK: Thomas Kirgate, at Strawberr-Hill, 1789.
  • An Estimate of the Religion of the Fashionable World. London: T. Cadell, 1791.
  • Remarks on the Speech of M. Dupont; made in the National Convention of France, on the subjects of religion and education. London: T. Cadell, 1793.
  • Village Politics: Addressed to all the mechanics, journeymen, and day labourers, in Great Britain (by "Will Chip, a country carpenter"). Manchester, UK: printed by J. Harrop, 1793.
  • Cheap Repository Tracts. London: 1795-8.
  • Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education. (2 volume)s, London: T. Cadell, jun., & W. Davies, 1799.
  • Hints towards Forming the Character of a Young Princess. (2 volumes), London: T. Cadell & W. Davies, 1805.
  • Coelebs in Search of a Wife. (2 volumes), London: T. Cadell & W. Davies, 1808.
  • Practical Piety. (2 volumes), London: 1811.
  • Christian Morals. (2 volumes), London: T. Cadell & W. Davies, 1813; New York: Eastburn, Kirk / Boston: Bradford & Read, 1813.
  • An Essay on the Character and Practical Writings of St. Paul. (2 volumes). London: T. Cadell & W. Davies, 1815; Boston: Wells & Lilly, 1815.
  • Moral Sketches of Prevailing Ppinions and Manners. London: T. Cadell & W. Davies, 1819.
  • The Twelfth of August; or, The feast of freedom. London: J. & T. Clarke, 1819.
  • The Spirit of Prayer: Selected from published volumes. London: T. Cadell, 1825.


  • Sacred Dramas: Chiefly intended for young persons; to which is added, Sensibility: A poem. London: T. Cadell, 1782; Philadelphia: Thomas Dobson, 1787.

Collected editionsEdit

  • Works: In prose and verse. Cork, Ireland: Thomas White, 1789.

Works. 8 vols, 1801.

  • Works. (19 volumes), London: T. Cadell, 1818-19.
  • Works. (6 volumes), London : H. Fisher, R. Fisher & P. Jackson, 1833-4.
  • Miscellaneous Works (2 volumes), London: Thomas Tegg, 1840.
  • Works (2 volumes). New York: Harper, 1840.
  • Works. (8 volumes), London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853.
  • Selected Writings (edited by Robert Hole). London: Pickering & Chatto, 1996.


  • Memoirs of the Life and Correspondence (edited by William Roberts). (4 volumes), London: R.B. Seeley & W. Burnside, 1834; New York: Harper, 1835.
  • Letters to Zachary Macaulay: Containing notices of Lord Macaulay's youth (edited by Arthur Roberts). London: J. Nisbet, 1860; New York: R. Carter, 1860..
  • Letters (edited by R. Brimley). Johnson. London: John Lane, 1925.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[8]

See also Edit

A Riddle - Hannah More

A Riddle - Hannah More

References Edit


  • PD-icon.svg Chisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica. 18 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 821-822. . Wikisource, Web, Feb. 14, 2018.
  • Collingwood, Jeremy and Margaret. Hannah More. Oxford: Lion Publishing, 1990.
  • Demers, Patricia. The World of Hannah More. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1996.
  • Ford, Charles Howard. Hannah More: A Critical Biography. New York: Peter Lang, 1996.
  • Harland, Marion. Hannah More. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1900.
  • Hopkins, Mary Alden. Hannah More and Her Circle. London: Longmans, 1947.
  • Jones, M. G. Hannah More Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1952.
  • Knight, Helen C. Hannah More; or, Life in Hall and Cottage. New York: M. W. Dodd, 1851.
  • Kowaleski-Wallace, Elizabeth. Their Fathers’ Daughters: Hannah More, Maria Edgeworth, and Patriarchal Complicity. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.
  • Roberts, William, ed. Memoirs of Mrs Hannah More. New York: Harper & Bros., 1836.
  • Stott, Anne. Hannah More: The First Victorian. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.
  • Taylor, Thomas. Memoir of Mrs. Hannah More. London: Joseph Rickerby, 1838.
  • Thompson, Henry. The Life of Hannah More With Notices of Her Sisters. London: T. Cadell, 1838.
  • Yonge, Charlotte. Hannah More. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1888.

Other secondary sourcesEdit

  • Elliott, Dorice Williams (1995). "The Care of the Poor Is Her Profession: Hannah More and Women's Philanthropic Work". Nineteenth-Century Contexts 19: 179–204. doi:10.1080/08905499508583421. 
  • Kelly, Gary (1987). "Revolution, Reaction, and the Expropriation of Popular Culture: Hannah More's Cheap Repository". Man and Nature 6: 147–59. 
  • Myers, Mitzi. "Hannah More's Tracts for the Times: Social Fiction and Female Ideology." Fetter'd or Free? British Women Novelists, 1670–1815. Eds. Mary Anne Schofield and Cecilia Macheski. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1986.
  • Myers, Mitzi (1982). "Reform or Ruin: 'A Revolution in Female Manners.'". Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture 11: 199–216. 
  • Nardin, Jane (2001). "Hannah More and the Rhetoric of Educational Reform". Women's History Review 10: 211–27. doi:10.1080/09612020100200571. 
  • Nardin, Jane (2001). "Hannah More and the Problem of Poverty". Texas Studies in Language and Literature 43: 267–84. doi:10.1353/tsl.2001.0015. 
  • Pickering, Samuel (1977). "Hannah More's Coelebs in Search of a Wife and the Respectability of the Novel in the Nineteenth Century". Neuphilologische Mitteilungen 78: 78–85. 
  • Scheuerman, Mona. In Praise of Poverty: Hannah More Counters Thomas Paine and the Radical Threat. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2002.
  • Sutherland, Kathryn. "Hannah More's Counter-Revolutionary Feminism." Revolution in Writing: British Literary Responses to the French Revolution. Ed. Kelvin Everest. Milton Keynes: Open University Press, 1991.
  • Vallone, Lynne (1991). "'A humble Spirit under Correction': Tracts, Hymns, and the Ideology of Evangelical Fiction for Children, 1780–1820". The Lion and the Unicorn 15: 72–95. 
  • A Comparative Study of Three Anti-Slavery Poems Written by William Blake, Hannah More and Marcus Garvey: Black Stereotyping by Jérémie Kroubo Dagnini for GRAAT On-Line, January 2010


  1. John William Cousin, "More, Hannah," A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature. London: Dent / New York: Dutton, 1910, 278. Wikisource, Web, Feb. 14, 2018.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 Britannica 1911, 18, 821.
  3. S. J.Skedd, 'More, Hannah (1745–1833)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2004)
  4. "PortCities Bristol". Retrieved 15 April 2009. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Britannica 1911, 18, 822.
  6. Coysh, A.W.; E.J. Mason & V. Waite (1977). The Mendips. London: Robert Hale Ltd. ISBN 0709164262. 
  7. Hannah More, Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation. Web, Feb. 14, 2018.
  8. Search results = au:Hannah More, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Aug. 24, 2016.

External links Edit

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