Hannah More on the Education of Women

Hannah More (1745 – 1833) was regarded by England’s intelligentsia as one of the most learned women of her time. She was a member of the original Bluestocking Society, an informal gathering of educated women, which attracted some of Great Britain’s most influential men to its discussions.

Hannah More and her sister were notable, among other things, for assisting William Wilberforce in his crusade to abolish slavery in England. An expert on the social conditions of England, Hannah devoted much of her energy to improving the conditions of the lower classes. She also wrote a great deal of instructional literature for young women.

We would like to share with you one comment she made on the education of women during her time:

…in this land of civil and religious liberty, where there is as little despotism exercised over the minds, as over the persons of women, they have every liberty of choice, and every opportunity of improvement; and how greatly does this increase their obligation to be exemplary in their general conduct, attentive to the government of their families, and instrumental to the good order of society!

She who is at a loss to find amusements at home, can no longer apologize for her dissipation abroad, by saying she is deprived of the benefit and the pleasure of books; and she who regrets being doomed to a state of dark and gloomy ignorance, by the injustice, or tyranny of the men, complains of an evil which does not exist.

Hannah More, Essays on Various Subjects Principally Designed for Young Ladies