" History has not been kind to Hannah More. This once lionized
writer and activist -- the most influential female philanthropist
of her day -- is now considered by many to be the embodiment of
pious morality and reactionary anti-feminism. Largely because of
her belief in separate spheres for men and women, More has been
vilified by modern-day feminists. The first biography to examine
the complete range of her life and work, The World of Hannah More
depicts the author as a forceful voice in her own day and one who,
from the point of view of plain justice, today deserves a more
nuanced treatment. Without denying the problems More presents for
modern readers, Patricia Demers has produced a balanced revisionist
study of a woman enormously influential in late-eighteenth-and
early-nineteenth-century England. By examining the career of this
cultural warrior, situating her major texts in relation to
contemporaries, and addressing her published writing, philanthropic
activities, and voluminous correspondence, Demers anchors The World
of Hannah More in the work itself -- an appropriate and just
response to a woman who took pride in living to some purpose.
Trying to deal justly with More and her female moral imperialism
requires admitting both the expansiveness and the limitations of
her charity, methodology and vision. Without venerating or
trivializing, Demers pursues the doubleness and contradictions of
More's largely neglected or superficially mined works, from the
determined experiments of the earliest plays to the poignantly
revealing essays on practical piety, Christian morals, and Saint
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