Hannah More was one of the most important voices of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. At the heart of a complex and extensive network of politicians, bishops, writers, and evangelical Christians which included figures such as William Wilberforce, Samuel Johnson and Elizabeth Montagu, More sought to redefine and reshape the social and moral values of the age.
Though More’s fame and influence were considerable throughout her fifty-year literary career, she has remained a peripheral figure in later assessments of the literary culture of the period. In part this is because some of her views are unappealing to modern tastes (she argued strongly against women becoming more involved in political life, for instance, and she was fiercely opposed to Catholic emancipation), but it is also because she has acquired a reputation for dour, dreary earnest religiosity. That her evangelical Christian beliefs were central to More’s life and works is undeniable, but she was also playful and light-hearted, and she especially delighted in the company of children. More’s cheerless reputation developed after the publication in 1834 – just a year after her death – of William Roberts’s four-volume edition, Memoirs of the Life and Correspondence of Mrs. Hannah More, in which More’s cheerful and teasing voice was deliberately and ‘primly’ edited out. So badly did Roberts misrepresent More that her goddaughter Marianne Thornton begged correspondents not to ‘judge of Hannah More by anything […] that Roberts tells you she said or did.’
The publication of More’s letters for the first time in a reliable and scholarly online edition enable’s a much-needed reassessment of her significance, in addition to revealing the complexity and nuance of her character.
A new project funded by The Foyle Foundation
The project to produce an online edition of More’s 1,800 surviving letters has already been generously supported by the University of Strathclyde, the Modern Humanities Research Associate (MHRA) and the Carnegie Trust.
This current project, generously funded by The Foyle Foundation, will redevelop the project’s existing online edition (https://www.hannahmoreletters.co.uk) with a new discovery interface, new back-end management, and new content.
- Dr Kerri Andrews (Project Director – The Hannah More Trust and Edgehill University)
- Matthew Groves (Senior Research Software Engineer – Digital Humanities Institute)
- Dr Sue Edney (University of Bristol)
- Dr Nicholas D. Smith
- Professor Patricia Demers (University of Alberta)
- Dr Joanne Edwards
- Mrs Joanna Barker
- Dr Sarah Crofton
- Ms Natalie Wilcox