Other Sellers on Amazon
+ Free Shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More ?Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist Hardcover – Illustrated, November 4, 2014
|New from||Used from|
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Frequently bought together
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
About the Author
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Karen Swallow Prior has done a marvelous job of writing a thorough, balanced biography of Hannah More, who accomplished so much in her lifetime that it's mind boggling. She was certainly a celebrity in her day, and deservedly so. In her long and prolific life, Ms. More wrote acclaimed poetry, plays and a novel, started a school for women, spoke persuasively to the upper classes of England about moral reform, and reached out to the poor of her area by starting Sunday schools, which were vehicles for teaching literacy. One should remember that Hannah More did all these things at a time in history when being a woman was a liability, and to be seen doing any public work at all was considered unseemly. Astounding.
Dr. Prior has given us a wealth of finely researched information about Ms. More's successes and charming ways, but she also tells us about her failures and her blind spots, thus helping to form a more complete and believable picture of the subject. We are also kept aware throughout the book of the historical and cultural period in which Hannah More lived, which for 21st century minds, had some very perplexing customs. As far as the readability of the book, there are quotes from writers of the mid-18th century that are challenging, but Hannah More's life is so interesting, and Dr Prior's writing is so engaging, that it is worth the reader's time to work through those passages.
I believe that this excellent book should be on the reading list of every young woman. I have asked our local library to purchase a copy for their shelves, and will encourage them to include it on the list of suggested books for Women's History Month, too. Hannah More's life is truly inspirational, and I think It's time to put her back in the limelight.
In the spirit of full disclosure, in addition to purchasing a copy of "Fierce Convictions" through Amazon, I also received an Advanced Reader's Copy of the book from Nelson Publishers. My opinions are my own.
Hannah More’s close friend and first biographer, William Roberts, “flattened the rich textures of her personality and faith. Robert’s emendation of her letters and records re-created More in a saint’s image.” (p 252) A few generations later, the modernist movement “defined themselves principally by their rejection of the values that most defined the Victorian age: duty, family, piety. More’s reputation was irreparably tarnished when Augustine Birrell … proclaimed in a 1905 essay that he had planted his nineteen-volume set of her collected works in his garden.” (p 252) With the dismissal of the Victorian age as a whole, Hannah More, the “first Victorian,” was consigned to the dusty annals of history and forgotten. However, “[s]omewhere between Birrell’s hatred and Robers’s hagiography is a woman who was at one ordinary and remarkable,” Dr. Prior states. (p 253) In <i>Fierce Convictions</i>, Dr. Prior re-introduces Hannah More to a world which owes her much.
Rather than following a linear narrative of More’s life, this book is arranged in topical chapters. Beginning with her childhood and complicated family history, other chapters highlight the significant aspects of More’s life: singleness in spite of offers of marriage, her early literary career, and her involvement in the Bluestocking Circle. The next few chapters delineate More’s growing disenchantment with fashionable London life and her turning more fully to her Christian faith. Rather than utilize her literary skills to create dramas upon the stage, More turned her attention to the horrific dramas taking place in life itself: slavery, illiteracy, vice, animal torture, and revolutionary agitation. She then put her literary and interpersonal skills to work in realizing their solutions: abolition, creating schools to teach reading and morality, putting an end to animal blood sports, striving for reform to combat causes inflaming revolution, and finally the writing of fiction to redeem it from mere titillating entertainment into more edifying reading matter.
Throughout Fierce Convictions, Karen Swallow Prior depicts how Hannah More’s convictions formed, matured, and goaded her into action. Even while depicting sordid realities and the working out of their solutions, Prior manages to engross the reader with engaging writing. Prior also contrasts More’s convictions with other prevailing world views of the day such as the Cult of Sentimentality and conservative utilitarianism. The chapters being arranged topically rather than as a linear narrative, necessitates moving forward and back in the time-line of More’s life. This choice of organization can cause some confusion, but Prior is meticulous with dates throughout and the careful reader will be able to follow the layering effect of the topical approach. There is much to be gained in reading Fierce Convictions: the depiction of a brilliant woman who used her talents for the good of others, an unflinching look into important history poorly known to many, and the demonstration of what can be accomplished by well-organized like-minded people. Karen Swallow Prior masterfully summarizes and presents the beautiful, complex life of Hannah More. Brava, Dr. Prior!
I was given an advanced readers copy in exchange for an honest review. My more detailed review can be read at ellenmandeville(DOT)com/review-fierceconvictions/
Top international reviews
I've never highlighted so many quotes in a book.
Just a note - this is an historical portrait, written by a scholar and the context of the time is described. This is not written like a story.
Also for the ebook, skip past the lengthy footnotes to see the photos at the end.
Now this splendid book by Karen Swallow Prior has filled in the gaps. It's not a work of hagiography; she obviously admires her subject, but is not afraid to give us a picture of a real human being, with flaws as well as virtues. I was particularly struck by the paradox that a woman of fairly conservative and traditional views was also a trail blazer who did things very few women had done before. I was completely unaware of Hannah More's enormous stature as a writer in her day, and of her vast circle of influence including, for example, Dr. Samuel Johnson and the famous actor David Garrick.
I found this book both informative and inspiring. It has encouraged me to delve more deeply into the history - and the historic spirituality - of my own evangelical tradition. I highly recommend it.
Unacquainted as I was with this period in England's history, I greatly appreciated Prior's detailed descriptions of both the times & the unique environment (physical & social) in which More lived. I also found Prior's thoughtful & honest critique of the imperfect More, living in very imperfect times, refreshing for a biography. Where we often read more glowing tales that are absent of the depth of human spirit & experience, in "Fierce Convictions", we come to understand the strengths & weaknesses of both More and the time in which she lived.
Thank you for such an incredibly thorough book, written about a dynamic & compassionate force for both art & reform, the author Hannah More.
I leave this book both inspired and convicted to use my own gifts for the betterment of others, and to examine my own convictions in matters of social justice and faith.
As Hannah More was irrepressible in her determination to make a difference in her corner of the world, so should we all discover how WE are gifted, and use those gifts to the best of our abilities, and with the fiercest of conviction.