Juliet Barker

A Call to Alms

Hannah More: The First Victorian


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ALTHOUGH A CELEBRITY in her own day Hannah More was fated to become a footnote in the biographies of her contemporaries. Today, if she is remembered at all, it is as ‘Holy Hannah’, the elderly spinster who was the author of books of conduct for girls and a member of the Clapham Sect of Evangelicals. Even when she died in 1833, at the great age of eighty-eight, her reputation was already in decline; one obituary breezily declared that she ‘had become. I as an author, posthumous to the present age, long before she quitted life’. A year later, the obligatory worthy biography was published in four tediously dull didactic volumes, and by this time-honoured means of commemorating the great and the good, More was effectively consigned to oblivion.

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