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Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More ?Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist Hardcover – Illustrated, November 4, 2014
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About the Author
- ASIN : 1400206251
- Publisher : Thomas Nelson; Illustrated edition (November 4, 2014)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9781400206254
- Item Weight : 14.9 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.75 x 1.1 x 8.7 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #355,529 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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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.
The Content: The book follows the life of Hannah More (duh) who lived in the United Kingdom from 1745-1833. Prior to beginning this biography I had never heard of Hannah More and found myself grateful for the opportunity to learn about the life that she lived. As the subtitle of the book suggests Hannah More was a poet, play-writer, and novelist. It was her gift and love of writing that she utilized as an abolitionist trying to bring down the slave trade in the United Kingdom- which happened shortly before her death. Hannah also used her writing to seek reform in the United Kingdom in areas such as the church, women's education, morality, and education of the poor. Hannah was born into a middle class family but through her witty and winsome personality, alongside her gifted writing ability, regularly found herself mingling with and speaking to the upper classes of society when we should visit London. A few names of people that Hannah spent quite a bit of time with that are well known would include William Wilberforce and John Newton. Here are a couple quotes from the book that capture just a little bit of who Hannah More was, "More was a woman of strong convictions, but she kept a plentiful table. She mixed comfortably and enthusiastically with rich and poor, churched and unchurched, and all in between. It was her habit to eat meals with the poor villagers during the years of the Sunday schools. At the same time, she maintained close friendships with bishops and lords." Another quote tells us of More's extensive use of her writing schools to impact people at all levels of society, "She had written plays produced by England's premier stage manager. She had written verses extolled by the country's most revered literary critic. She had turned from that world to the church and written serious treatises that had been praised by royalty and bishops. Yet few of such accomplishments would do what Hannah More did next: she gathered together all the talent and experiences she had gained thus far in life- her literary skills, her experience in the Sunday schools, her political savvy, and her social finesse- and poured them into a pamphlet for the poor. She never could have dreamed that stopping so low would eventually lead to her most influential and most highly praised work. She now piled her pen to advance reform about the common readers with not a book, but a pamphlet." The author of this book does a wonderful job of detailing in a riveting and well written biography on the life of Hannah More.
What I liked: In addition to this being a well written biography here are three things from the life of Hannah More that I appreciated. First, it was clear to all that Hannah More was a very gifted writer and that she had a winsome personality. That in and of itself is not something that is that uncommon. What was uncommon is the way in which Hannah sought to use what God had given her to help bring change to the areas in the world around her that needed to be changed. May we also seek ways to do that in our time and world. Second, Hannah held strong convictions but didn't hold those strong convictions in a way that was off putting, or unnecessarily offensive. In fact, Hannah was able to hold strongly to her convictions while simultaneously having good relationships with people who had beliefs and lifestyles vastly different than hers. I was longing for this to be more the case today than it seems to be at the present time. Third, I appreciated how Hannah More at times sought to find the middle ground in bringing about reform. While this rightly was not a part of her work as an abolitionist, in other areas she sought to find the middle ground between those who were strongly against any change and those who were seeking such drastic change that the likelihood of their success was minimal. Hannah decided that some reform was better than no reform and was willing to work in that middle ground in several instances. There is much more that I could write about as far as what I liked.
What I didn't like: The author does a good job of drawing out the realities that Hannah More was, like we all are, a product of her culture and this at times will come across in the life of Hannah More. Some might struggle with her views of women and education (which at the time was somewhat progressive) as well as her views on the limitations and the minimal education that would be offered to the lower class.
Who Should Read this Book: If you like biographies, and maybe even if you don't, you should read this one! You will be challenged, encouraged, and grateful to God for the ways in which He used the life of Hannah More to accomplish His purposes.
Top reviews from other countries
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.