In need of some Fierce Convictions?

Hannah More had Fierce Convictions: a little more about her inspiring life and legacy.

I had no idea what a debt I owe to Hannah More.

As it turns out, I…. no, WE… live in a world significantly shaped by the life of this lady: a poet, an abolitionist and a reformer. She was an acclaimed poet and published playwright. She was dinner-party-buddies with the likes of Dr Samuel Johnson, the great force behind the first dictionary. She worshipped with John Newton, author of Amazing Grace. She worked tirelessly alongside William Wilberforce: he the voice and she the writer of the pamphlets which changed the course of history in the battle against slavery. She was the only female member of the legendary Clapham Sect.

And, as if that weren’t enough: she and her sisters co-founded a school while still in their teens, they wrote for the reform of education and the place of women in a changing world, and in the years that followed, established schools for an entire region of England where children worked and life was rough… but on Sunday (oh sweet Sunday!), the factories were closed and the books opened.

fierce-convictions-hardbackAlthough historians and biographers have noted Hannah More before, Karen Swallow Prior has produced a stunning work in her book Fierce Convictions (Thomas Nelson). I’ve been a fan of Karen’s writing for some time (you might remember her fantastic guest post) – and in this work she brings all the academic rigor of painstaking and careful research to bear, mingled with conviction, warmth and wit.

Karen Swallow Prior’s thoughts and writing captured me the first time I read her, and I can see why Hannah More must have had the same effect on her. For certainly, Prior could write on anything, and probably anyone, and I would be willing to read it… but she chose Hannah More: and what a credit to humankind (and womankind!) they both are.

I’ve mentioned before that I am, first an foremost, a lover of fiction. Non-fiction books are often hard for me to get through, and biographies can read a lot like tedious history. In particular, I am a lover of fiction with snappy dialog. But Fierce Convictions – although it is non-fiction and a biography, is CRAMMED full of the wit and insight of one of the great minds of her day. There are excerpts of her letters which made me laugh out loud, and which I went back and underlined a second, and then a third time – in order to think on them more deeply.

This was a terrific book to read: not only because it is fitting to pay tribute to someone such as Hannah More, or even because her example of faith-in-action, of someone using what she had in the ways that she could with perseverance, is something remarkable to emulate. It was a terrific book because the story of Hannah More is woven into a deeper story of how the world has changed, and of how it is the same.

Were it not for women like Hannah: I may not have been able to attend college. Her writings were significant milestones in a long road towards women being educated. Were it not for women like Hannah: who knows how long the African slave trade would have lasted? Were it not for women like Hannah: would the industrial revolution have played out in the way it did? Or would democracy have developed as it did, given that literacy is a crucible for democracy – and she taught a nation to read?

Hannah More’s world was different to mine: as a woman, she had no right to vote, no place at the table. As someone in the 18th century, she did not have public schooling. Information was slow to travel. Social classes could not be transcended.

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The world has changed since More’s time (and More had a hand in changing it), but it was also startling to me to read about the ways in which More’s world is similar to ours: we have pressing injustices in our world, and it is often not in the economic or political interests of the powers-that-be to change them. There are people who cannot read in our world, and it is often considered too hard/too expensive/too unrealistic to make a difference. There are people right under our noses who are in need of advocates.

We remain a world in need of people with Fierce Convictions. And, having read Hannah More’s story, I’m feeling just a little more Fierce.

You should read it too. Our world needs more like her.

Find out more about Fierce Convictions here, or order it online here.

Thomas Nelson Publishers have kindly offered me a copy of Fierce Convictions to a reader. Enter to win a copy below. Entries close Wednesday, November 13th at midnight PST.

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28 thoughts on “In need of some Fierce Convictions?

  1. goodness- I’d love to read this. It is refreshing to see a biography about a woman changing the world once in a while 🙂

    • Sam, sorry the competition entry wasn’t working at first! Thanks for leaving a comment – you can enter to win now that the widget is fixed 🙂

  2. Do NOT enter me in the drawing. I read, underlined, and basically devoured my ARC and bought a hardcover because it’s THAT GOOD! Enjoyed reading your review, Bronwyn. Fierce Convictions is so chock-a-block full of great information wittily delivered, that it requires and deserves many, many reviews to begin to do it justice. Heck, it just needs to be READ by everyone! 😉

    Here’s my review for anyone interested: http://ellenmandeville.com/review-fierceconvictions/
    But, alas, no book give away.

  3. Sounds like a gem! Thanks for this review, and for hosting the giveaway! One woman who has inspired me has been Elisabeth Elliot — her steadfast faith in the midst of trial has been a great encouragement.

  4. Thanks for the review! I love reading biographies, especially about women who made a difference! This sounds like a gem (which I will be inclined to get my hands on, even if I don’t win 🙂 Thanks for hosting the giveaway!)

  5. Honestly, have not ever heard of Hannah Moore, that I can remember. But, wow! I’m thinking I need to read this book! And need to leave it lay around for my teen girls to pickup. Thanks for the giveaway!

    • I think I need to read this book! She sounds amazing. Inspiration from someone? Perhaps authors like Lisa Bevere, Liz Curtis Higgs and Neta Jackson. But most strong women from history it’s easy to glean something from. There are many from the Bible as well. Deborah and Jael are a couple of my favs. Though Jael isn’t one of the main/large figures from the Bible.

  6. Sounds like a great book about an amazing person. Seems that there was another female in the Clapham Sect (according to Wikipedia) – Katherine Hankey – an evangelist, poet and missionary nurse! She sounds awesome too!

  7. So many women have been an inspiration. I guess I glean bits from many. Authors, like Lisa Bevere, Liz Curtis Higgs and Neta Jackson. From the Bible there are many as well, Deborah and Jael (though she isn’t a person that has a lot written about her) are a couple of my favs. thanks for offering this giveaway.

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