Foreword by Eric Metaxas,

Best-Selling Author of Bonhoeffer and Amazing Grace


The enthralling biography of the woman writer who helped end the slave trade, changed Britain’s upper classes, and taught a nation how to read.

The history-changing reforms of Hannah More affected every level of 18th-Century British society through her keen intellect, literary achievements, collaborative spirit, strong Christian principles, and colorful personality. A woman without connections or status, More took the world of British letters by storm when she arrived in London from Bristol, becoming a best-selling author and acclaimed playwright and quickly befriending the author Samuel Johnson, the politician Horace Walpole, and the actor David Garrick. Yet she was also a leader in the Evangelical movement, using her cultural position and her pen to support the growth of education for the poor, the reform of morals and manners, and the abolition of Britain’s slave trade.

Fierce Convictions weaves together world and personal history into a stirring story of life that intersected with Wesley and Whitefield’s Great Awakening, the rise and influence of Evangelicalism, and convulsive effects of the French Revolution. A woman of exceptional intellectual gifts and literary talent, Hannah More was above all a person whose faith compelled her both to engage her culture and to transform it.

About the Author

Karen Swallow Prior is professor of English at Liberty University. She is the author of Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me and contributes to Christianity Today , The Atlantic, and Relevant magazine, among other publications. She is a Research Fellow with the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and a member of the Faith Advisory Council of the Humane Society of the United States. She lives in Amherst, VA.


  • As the “heart and hands” behind Britain's movement to abolish slavery, Hannah More deserves long-overdue recognition as one of the great moral reformers of her time. Karen Swallow Prior's fascinating biography Fierce Convictions restores her to just that place, alongside John Newton and William Wilberforce. This compelling book is a must-read for anyone interested in how people of faith can make a real difference in their world. –Thomas S. Kidd, professor of history, Baylor University
  • A book everyone should read, a life everyone should know, and one that many should emulate. Eric Metaxas, best-selling author of Bonhoeffer and Seven Men
  • I'm so glad I read this book. I knew nothing about Hannah More before being introduced to her by Karen Swallow Prior's wonderful biography. Hannah More—a marvelous writer and a courageous opponent of the slave trade—is now one of my special saints! —Dr. Richard Mouw, former president of Fuller Theological Seminary
  • Karen Swallow Prior isn't satisfied with arresting the intellect. She goes after the imagination and the affections as well with truth, beauty, and wisdom. This book will grip you to the point that you will turn the last page asking, "How does this change the way I live from now on?  —Russell D. Moore, President - Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
  • Hannah More was an educational pioneer and a best-selling evangelical author of “cheap tracts” for England’s poor in the tumultuous years of the American and French Revolutions.  As educator, writer, reformer, and public Christian she was much lauded, but also much lampooned, during her own lifetime.  With careful research, balanced judgments, accessible prose, and unusual insight, Karen Swallow Prior’s biography shows clearly why Hannah More made such an important impact in her own age, and also why her life can speak in significant ways to readers today. —Mark A. Noll, author of The Rise of Evangelicalism: The Age of Whitefield, Edwards, and the Wesleys and Francis A. McAnaney, professor of history, University of Notre Dame
  • Karen Swallow Prior is an extraordinary thinker, writer, voice in the church today. Simply—I cannot miss anything she writes. This generation is in desperate need of lives like Hannah More's. I can't wait to see how her story changes the current landscape of the church and raises up many with fierce convictions in this generation. —Ann Voskamp, best-selling author of One Thousand Gifts
  • Here is that rarity of a book: scholarship of impeccable rigor that’s also a compulsive page-turner. Reading Karen Swallow Prior feels like a privilege. —Leonard Sweet, best-selling author, professor, Drew University and George Fox University, and chief contributor to
  • Hannah More was an extraordinary woman with extraordinary convictions... much like Karen Swallow Prior. This book is a feat in and of itself and I'm excited that lives of brave women can be told by the next generation of brave, young women. As an abolitionist, I find strength in knowing there are many that have gone before and many who will come after. —Christine Caine, founder, The A21 Campaign and best-selling author of Undaunted
  • Professor Prior's perspective, which combines literary and historical insights, gives a valuable window into the character of Hannah More, who is interesting, not just because she is so sparky but also because More's interests were so many and she is so full of contradictions. It does us local history people good to have the biographical links with More's writings pointed out and explained. I believe Professor Prior has made a valuable addition to the literature about More, and hope the book gets the success it deserves. —William Evans, Treasurer and Trustee of Bristol & Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, Former Solicitor to the University of the West of England
  • A humane and perceptive study of Hannah More that shows her continuing relevance to the modern world. This very well-written and accessible account should introduce her life and writings to a new readership. —Dr. Anne Stott, author of Hannah More: The First Victorian
  • Hannah More, famed as a gifted playwright, was a witty ornament of London parties in the later eighteenth century.  Yet she was also a defender of the British constitution, an architect of Victorian family life and a resolute opponent of the slave trade.  Karen Swallow Prior has given a rounded portrait of a woman who combined literary ability with Evangelical piety in a most attractive way.  —David Bebbington, Professor of History - University of Stirling, Scotland
  • If the eighteenth century gave us Samuel Johnson, a pre-eminent man of letters, it was also the century when Britain gave us Hannah More—a remarkable woman whose prodigious literary gifts were wedded to a sterling philanthropic spirit, burnished by faith. As with Samuel Johnson, Hannah More was not without faults, or failings. These underscore her humanity, as author Karen Swallow Prior so rightly discerns in this finely balanced book. But then, there are also the seasons of life when we see someone like Hannah More come into her own, or sacrifice much to make a better world. Fierce Convictions is narrative biography at its best: restoring a great soul to her rightful place in our living cultural memory. —Kevin Belmonte, author of William Wilberforce: A Hero for Humanity
  • Prior has crafted an absolutely absorbing and rigorously researched biography. The interweaving of Hannah More's own voice via letters and conversation reveals a witty, determined, and socially conscious woman bolstered by her radical faith. Prior avoids hagiography, however, through honest depiction of More's struggles, mistakes, and imperfections, even as she admires the genius of this Romantic-era poet and reformer. The result is a vibrant tale of perseverance under trial and enduring female fortitude in the face of societal challenges. —Natasha Aleksiuk Duquette, associate dean, Tyndale University, Toronto, Canada, editor of Jane Austen and the Arts: Elegance, Propriety, Harmony and Sublimer Aspects, and author of Veiled Intent: Dissenting Women's Theological Aesthetics
  • Many believe in the power of faith to effect social, as well as personal, transformation; but few of us have actually seen it in practice. To us, Karen Swallow Prior offers the life and legacy of Hannah More, a woman of piety and grace, intelligence and passion—a woman whose evangelical convictions and literary wit turned her world upside down. As we fight for justice, pursue peace, and work toward a better future, Fierce Convictions reminds us that the way forward also includes learning from the past. —Hannah Anderson, author of Made for More: An Invitation to Live in God’s Image
  • Karen Swallow Prior introduces us to a woman we should have met long before now. In this inspiring new biography, Prior captures the remarkable life of one of the most influential women of her day. Writers and artists, speakers and leaders, students and teachers should get this book and pay close attention. Prior’s portrait of Hannah More is an engaging and fascinating read that shows the power of words to change the world. —John Rinehart, author of Gospel Patrons
  • More had a vision to see her world changed and the courage to pursue those dreams. Her legacies include books, schools, and abolition. But More may not have been remembered without the scholarly effort of Karen Swallow Prior. Prior’s research and ability to capture the narrative of More’s life will keep you turning the pages. A little known author and abolitionist will receive the honor due her name thanks to the skillful, meticulous work of another author—Karen Swallow Prior. —Trillia Newbell, author of United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity (Moody, 2014) and Fear and Faith (Moody, 2015)
  • When faced with the overwhelming needs of our world today, I now find myself asking, “What would Hannah More do?” And the answer is simple . . . More would do something. It was that resilient willingness to use her words for good when others were comfortable keeping quiet that allowed her to literally move the world. —Noel Brewer Yeatts, author of Awake: Doing a World of Good One Person at a Time and vice president of World Help
  • Hannah More cultivated her intellect and imagination, and helped other women do the same. She knew sharp female minds would magnify Christ-honoring femininity and strengthen marriages, homes, and churches. –Tony Reinke, author of Newton on the Christian Life: To Live Is Christ

Media Inquiries

For press inquiries regarding Fierce Convictions, please contact Emily Lineberger at