Hannah More (1745–1833).
Essays on Various Subjects. Principally Designed for Young Ladies.
Chiswick: Charles Whittingham, 1824. (ACZ7097)
Hannah More was one of the most influential women in Georgian England. Born near Bristol in Gloucestershire, More was educated in a school for girls run by her older sister. At the age of seventeen she began writing plays for her own amusement. After a failed six-year engagement to a local land owner, More embarked on a career as a writer. She gained the support of the famous actor David Garrick, and in 1777 her tragedy Percy played to critical acclaim at Covent Garden Theatre. She was welcomed into London’s intellectual circles, but during the mid-1780s More turned increasingly to moral and religious writing. Between 1795 and 1797 she published the “Cheap Repository Tracts,” a series of popular moralistic tracts intended for the poor. In her final years, More donated the majority of her substantial earnings from writing to charities.
More first published her Essays on Various Subjects, Principally Designed for Young Ladies in 1777. These eight essays offered advice on virtuous behavior, proper conversation, true and false meekness, envy, sentimentality, education, and religion. Although More was a strong supporter of greater opportunities for female education, she generally did not challenge the accepted boundaries of women’s conduct. Considered an ideal gift for a young Englishwoman, the Essays appeared in more than a dozen editions during the author’s lifetime.