Patricia Demers

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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 Paul.

Admirably surveys More's life and work. -- Choice

Demers sets out to rescue Hannah More from the hostility of her recent feminist critics by arguing for the significance of the writer's melioristic philosophy as a means to galvanize middle- and upper-class women to dispense charity to the poor and obscure. -- Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900

A concise book that will be most appreciated by readers with an interest in literary analysis and a prior understanding of the subject and the period. Demers works hard to present a balanced account of More's life by examining her entire career, not simply selected aspects. -- The Lion and the Unicorn

Offers an excellent overview of More's career and life. Demers has organized a wide variety of published and unpublished material into a coherent and interesting assessment of Hannah More, arguing convincingly for her importance and for the need to reconsider how the opposed values of critics and writers might influence the production of literary biography and criticism. -- University of Toronto Quarterly

Demers does a good job of fusing many bits of information into a cohesive whole so that Hannah More's life and work, both easily caricatured, become available to the reader in their complexity. -- Wordsworth Circle

The value of Demer’s work is precisely that More is more complex, more fascinating, more substantial, even more influential that we have recognized. -- Year’s Work in English Studies

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Hannah More, Women and literature

The World Of Hannah More
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