Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More
I love the quote “Well behaved women rarely make history” and I think it can certainly be true. In the biography, Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More, by Karen Swallow Prior, readers learn about Hannah More, a woman leader who fought for many changes, definitely a rarity in her day.
The enthralling biography of the woman writer who helped end the slave trade, changed Britain’s upper classes, and taught a nation how to read.
The history-changing reforms of Hannah More affected every level of 18th-Century British society through her keen intellect, literary achievements, collaborative spirit, strong Christian principles, and colorful personality. A woman without connections or status, More took the world of British letters by storm when she arrived in London from Bristol, becoming a best-selling author and acclaimed playwright and quickly befriending the author Samuel Johnson, the politician Horace Walpole, and the actor David Garrick. Yet she was also a leader in the Evangelical movement, using her cultural position and her pen to support the growth of education for the poor, the reform of morals and manners, and the abolition of Britain’s slave trade.
Fierce Convictions weaves together world and personal history into a stirring story of life that intersected with Wesley and Whitefield’s Great Awakening, the rise and influence of Evangelicalism, and convulsive effects of the French Revolution. A woman of exceptional intellectual gifts and literary talent, Hannah More was above all a person whose faith compelled her both to engage her culture and to transform it.
This is a biography but it definitely reads like a novel, and I love how history was displayed through the whole story. This is a woman I’d never heard of, and that’s unfortunate because of everything she fought for in her day. And our young ladies should learn about women leaders, both from the past and present! She fought to end slavery, educate both the poor and women, end animal cruelty and was both a poet and a playwright!
I personally enjoyed how Hannah More wasn’t made out to be a saint in the book. The author clearly spells out several faults, making her more believable to the reader. I’m not saying she wasn’t a great person and she definitely did wonderful things, especially considering the time period she lived in, but no one is perfect and we do tend to gloss over faults when speaking of people who have passed.
But I think the most powerful message I got from the book is how Hannah believed in the Lord, and her faith was the foundation of every struggle that she took on! There was no way to read this book and not walk away with a sense of awe of just how much she believed and relied on her faith. That made me admire her all the more.
I would definitely suggest this book for a ladies’ group or small book club, as well as for students as they learn about history and important figures.
You can purchase a copy of Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More on Amazon.
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