Mary Martha Sherwood

Mary Martha Sherwood
Mary Martha Sherwood
BornMary Martha Butt
6 May 1775
Stanford-on-Teme, Worcestershire, Great Britain
Died22 October 1851 (aged 76)
Twickenham, London, United Kingdom
OccupationWriter (novelist)
GenreChildren's literature

Mary Martha Sherwood (née Butt; 6 May 1775 – 22 September 1851) was a 19th-century English children's writer of over 400 books, tracts, magazine articles and chapbooks to her name. The best known include The History of Little Henry and his Bearer (1814), The History of Henry Milner (1822–1837), and The History of the Fairchild Family (1818–1847). Her evangelicalism permeated her early writings, but her later works cover common Victorian themes such as domesticity. After an uneventful childhood, she married Captain Henry Sherwood and moved to India, converted to evangelical Christianity and began to write for children. Though intended for children of military encampments there, her work was well received in Britain, where the Sherwoods returned after a decade. She opened a boarding school and published scores of texts for children and the poor. She has been called "one of the most significant authors of children's literature of the nineteenth century".[1] Her depictions of domesticity and British relations with India may have influenced many young readers,[2] but her work fell from favour as children's literature broadened in the late 19th century.

Early life

Sherwood was born on 6 May 1775 in Stanford-on-Teme, Worcestershire, as the eldest daughter and second child of Martha Butt and Reverend George Butt, the chaplain in ordinary to George III.[3] In her autobiography, Sherwood describes herself as an imaginative and playful child. She composed stories in her head before she could write and begged her mother to copy them down.[4] Sherwood remembered her childhood as a delightful time filled with exciting "adventures" undertaken with her brother. She makes the best of the "stocks" that she was forced to stand in while she did her lessons:

It was the fashion then for children to wear iron collars round the neck, with back-boards strapped over the shoulders. To one of these I was subjected from my sixth to my thirteenth year. I generally did all my lessons standing in stocks, with this same collar round my neck; it was put on in the morning, and seldom taken off till late in the evening.... And yet I was a very happy child, and when relieved from my collars I not unseldom manifested my delight by starting from our hall-door and taking a run for half a mile through the woods.[5]

Sherwood and her sister, Lucy Lyttelton's education was wide-ranging for girls during the late eighteenth century: Sherwood learned Latin and Greek and was permitted to read freely in her father's library.[6]

Sherwood states in her autobiography that she was tall and ungainly for her age and that she hid in the woods with her doll to escape visitors.[7] But she seems to have enjoyed attending Madame St. Quentin's School for Girls at Reading Abbey, which was run by French émigrés and was the same school Jane Austen had attended.[3] Sherwood seems to have had a generally happy childhood, marred only by the intrusion of the French Revolution and the upheavals it caused throughout Europe.[8]

Sherwood spent some of her teenage years in Lichfield, where she enjoyed the company of the naturalist Erasmus Darwin, the educational reformer Richard Lovell Edgeworth, his daughter Maria Edgeworth, and the poet Anna Seward.[9] Although she was intellectually stimulated by these writers, she was distressed by their lack of faith and later described Richard Edgeworth as an "infidel."[10] She also criticized Seward's persona of the female author, writing in her autobiography that she would never model herself after a woman who wore a wig and accumulated male flatterers.[11] She was determined to become a writer and when she was 17 her father, who encouraged her writing, helped her publish her first story, Traditions (1795).[12]

When Sherwood's father died in 1795, her family retired from its active social life, since her mother preferred seclusion, and moved to Bridgnorth, Shropshire,[13] where they lived in "a somewhat uncomfortable house" in the town's High Street.[14] At Bridgnorth Sherwood began writing sentimental novels; in 1802 she sold Margarita for £40 to Mr. Hazard of Bath, and The History of Susan Grey, a Pamela-like novel, for £10.[15] During this time she also taught at a local Sunday school.[3][14]

Marriage and India

On 30 June 1803, Sherwood became an army wife by marrying her cousin, Captain Henry Sherwood (1776–1849).[16]) For several years, she accompanied her husband and his regiment, the 53rd Foot, on numerous postings throughout Britain. In 1804, Sherwood was promoted to paymaster, which slightly improved the couple's finances. In 1805 the regiment was ordered to India and the Sherwoods were forced to leave their first child, Mary Henrietta, with Sherwood's mother and sister in England.[12]

Sherwood's four-month sea voyage to India was difficult; she was pregnant again and the regiment's ship was attacked by French warships.[12] The Sherwoods stayed in India for eleven years, moving with the army and a growing family from Calcutta (Kolkata) to Dinapore (Danapur) to Berhampore (Baharampur) to Cawnpore (Kanpur) to Meerut (Meerut). They had six children in India: Henry (1805–1807), Lucy Martha (1807–1808), Lucy Elizabeth (1809–1835), Emily (1811–1833), Henry Martyn (born 1813),[17] and Sophia (born 1815).[18] The deaths of the infants Henry and Lucy Martha and later of young Emily[19] and Lucy Elizabeth affected Sherwood deeply;[citation needed] she frequently named the heroes and heroines of her books (many of whom die) after her late children.[original research?]

After the death of her second child, Henry, of whooping cough,[20] Sherwood began to consider converting to evangelical Christianity. The missionary Henry Martyn (after whom she named her sixth child) finally convinced her, but it was the chaplain to the company who first made her aware of her "human depravity" and need for redemption.[21] After her conversion, she was anxious to pursue evangelical missionary work in India, but she first had to persuade the East India Company that its policy of religious neutrality was ill-conceived. Because there was social and political support for missionary programmes in Britain, the company eventually approved her endeavours.[22] Sherwood established schools for both the children of army officers and the local Indian children attached to the camp. The children were often taught in her home as no buildings were available. The first school began with 13 children and grew to over 40, with pupils ranging from the very young to adolescents; uneducated soldiers also attended at times.[23] Sherwood discovered that traditional British teaching materials did not appeal to children raised in India and therefore wrote her own Indian- and army-themed stories, such as The History of Little Henry and his Bearer (1814) and The Memoirs of Sergeant Dale, his Daughter and the Orphan Mary (1815).[24]

Sherwood also adopted neglected or orphaned children from the camp. In 1807 she adopted a three-year-old who had been given too much medicinal gin and in 1808 a malnourished two-year-old.[25] She found homes for those she could not adopt and founded an orphanage.[25] In 1816, on medical advice, she and her family returned to Britain; in her autobiography Sherwood relates that she was continually ill in India, and it was believed at the time that neither she nor any of her children could survive in a tropical climate.[26]

Return to Britain and death

When the Sherwoods returned to Britain, they were financially strapped. Captain Sherwood, having been put on half-pay, opened a school in Henwick, Worcestershire. Relying on her fame as an author and her teaching experience in India, Sherwood decided to establish a boarding school for girls in Wick; it remained in operation for eight years.[27] She taught English, French, astronomy, history, geography, grammar, writing and arithmetic. At the same time, she wrote hundreds of tracts, novels and other works for children and the poor, increasing her popularity in both the United States and Britain. The History of Henry Milner (1822) was one of Sherwood's most successful books; children sent her fan mail, begging her to write a sequel—one sent her "ornamental pens" with which to do so. Babies were named after the hero.[28] Sherwood published much of what she wrote in The Youth's Magazine, a children's periodical that she edited for over two decades.[29]

By the 1830s, the Sherwoods had become more prosperous and the family decided to travel to the continent. The texts that Sherwood wrote following this trip reflect her exposure to French culture in particular. She also embarked on a large and complex Old Testament project at this time, for which she learned Hebrew. To assist her, her husband assembled, over the course of ten years, a large Hebrew-English concordance.[30] Unfortunately, Sherwood's autobiography provides scant details of the last forty-odd years of her life. However, we do know that even in her seventies, Sherwood wrote for four or five hours a day;[31] many of the books were co-authored with Sherwood's daughter, Sophia. According to M. Nancy Cutt, a Sherwood scholar, this joint authorship led to a "watery sentimentality" not evident in Sherwood's earlier works as well as a greater emphasis on issues of class.[32]

In 1849, the Sherwoods moved to Twickenham, Middlesex, and in December of that year Captain Sherwood died. Sherwood herself died almost two years later on 20 September 1851.[33]

Literary analysis

Sherwood scholar M. Nancy Cutt has argued that Sherwood's career divides into three periods: (1) her romantic period (1795–1805), in which she wrote a few sentimental novels, (2) her evangelical period (1810 – c. 1830), in which she produced her most popular and influential works, and (3) her post-evangelical period (c. 1830 – 1851).[34] Several underlying themes pervade most of Sherwood's works through these periods: "her conviction of inherent human corruption", her belief that literature "had a catechetical utility" for every rank of society, her belief that "the dynamics of family life" should reflect central Christian principles, and her "virulent" anti-Catholicism.[31]

Early writings: sentimental novels

Sherwood's earliest works are the sentimental novels Traditions (1795) and Margarita (1795). Both are more worldly than her later works, but neither received much recognition. By contrast, The History of Susan Gray, written for the girls of her Sunday school class in Bridgnorth, made Sherwood a famous author. Like Hannah More's tracts, it is designed to teach middle-class morality to the poor. This novel — which Patricia Demers, a children's literature scholar, describes as a "purified Pamela" — tells the story of Susan, an orphaned servant girl who "resists the advances of a philandering soldier; though trembling with emotion at the man's declaration of love and promise of marriage."[35] The reader is regularly reminded of the "wages of sin" since Susan's story is told from her deathbed. A separate narrator, seemingly Sherwood, often interrupts the tale to warn readers against particular actions, such as becoming a "bad woman."[36] Despite a didactic tone that is often distasteful to modern readers, Susan Gray was so popular on its appearance that it was pirated by several publishers. In 1816, Sherwood published a revised and "improved" version, which Sarah Trimmer reviewed positively in The Guardian of Education. Sherwood wrote a companion story, The History of Lucy Clare, which was published in 1810.[37]

French literary influences

Although Sherwood disagreed with the principles espoused by French revolutionaries, her own works are modelled on French children's literature, much of it infused with Rousseauvian ideals. For example, in The History of Henry Milner, Part I (1822) and The History of the Fairchild Family, Part I (1818), Sherwood adopts Arnaud Berquin's "habitual pattern of small domestic situations acted out by children under the eye of parents or fellows".[38] Likewise, The Lady of the Manor (1823–1829) shares similar themes and structures with Madame de Genlis' Tales of the Castle (1785).[38] David Hanson, a scholar of nineteenth-century literature, has questioned this interpretation, however, arguing that the tales told by the maternal figure in The Lady of the Manor demonstrate a "distrust of parents," and of mothers in particular, because they illustrate the folly of overly permissive parenting. In these inset stories, only outsiders discipline children correctly.[39]

One of Sherwood's aims in her evangelically themed The History of Henry Milner (1822–1837) was to challenge what she saw as the irreligion inherent in French pedagogy. Henry Milner was written in response to Thomas Day's The History of Sandford and Merton (1783–1789), a novel founded on the philosophy of Rousseau (whose writings Sherwood had lambasted as "the well-spring of infidelity"[40]). Yet as the children's literature scholar Janis Dawson points out, the structure and emphasis of Henry much resemble Rousseau's Emile (1762): their pedagogies are similar, even if their underlying assumptions about childhood are diametrically opposed. Both books isolate the child in order to encourage learning from the natural world, but Sherwood's Henry is naturally depraved, while Rousseau's Emile is naturally good.[41] As the series progressed, however, Sherwood's views of religion changed (she became a universalist), causing her to place greater emphasis on childhood innocence in later volumes.[42]


The strongest themes in Sherwood's early evangelical writings are the need to recognize one's innate "depravity" and the need to prepare for eternity.[43] For Sherwood, the main lessons emphasize "faith, resignation, and implicit obedience to the will of God."[44] In her adaptation of John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress (1678), The Infant's Progress (1821), she represents original sin as a child named "In-bred Sin" who tempts the young pilgrims on their way to the Celestial City (Heaven). It is these battles with In-bred Sin that constitute the major conflict of the text.[44] The allegory is complex and, as Demers admits, "tedious" for even the "willing reader".[45] So "some young readers may have found [In-bred Sin's] activities more interesting than the spiritual struggles of the little heroes, reading the book as an adventure story rather than as a guide to salvation."[46] Such religious allegory, though not always so overt, continued to be a favourite literary device of Sherwood's.[44]

Sherwood also infused her works with political and social messages dear to evangelicals in the 1810s and 1820s, such as the crucial role of missions, the value of charity, the evils of slavery and the need for Sabbath observance.[44] She wrote biblically-based introductions to astronomy and ancient history, so that children would have Christian textbooks. As Cutt argues, "the intent of these (as indeed of all Evangelical texts) was to offset the deistic tendency to consider knowledge an end in itself."[44] She also revised classic children's books on religious grounds, such as Sarah Fielding's The Governess (1749).[44] These efforts to make religion more palatable through children's fiction were not always seen favourably by the whole evangelical community; The Evangelical Magazine reviewed harshly her Stories Explanatory of the Church Catechism (1817), complaining it was overly reliant on exciting fictional tales to convey its religious message.[47]

The History of the Fairchild Family (1818–1847)

As Cutt argues, "the great overriding metaphor of all [Sherwood's] work is the representation of divine order by the harmonious family relationship (inevitably set in its own pastoral Eden).... No writer made it clearer to her readers that the child who is dutiful within his family is blessed in the sight of God; or stressed more firmly that family bonds are but the earthly and visible end of a spiritual bond running up to the very throne of God."[48] Demers has referred to this "consciously double vision" as the quintessentially Romantic element of Sherwood's writing.[49] Nowhere is this more evident than in Sherwood's The History of the Fairchild Family,[original research?] the first part of which appeared in 1818.

Of all of Sherwood's evangelically themed books, The History of the Fairchild Family was the most popular. In publishing it with John Hatchard of Piccadilly, she assured it and the ten other books published with him a "social distinction" not attached to her other publications.[50] The Fairchild Family tells the story of a family striving towards godliness and consists of a series of lessons taught by the Fairchild parents to their three children (Emily, Lucy and Henry) regarding not only the proper orientation of their souls towards Heaven but also the right earthly morality (envy, greed, lying, disobedience, and fighting are immoral). The overarching narrative of the tale includes a series of tract-like stories which illustrate these moral lessons. For example, stories of the deaths of two neighbourhood children, Charles Trueman and Miss Augusta Noble, help the Fairchild children to understand how and why they need to look to the state of their own hearts.[51] The faithful and "true" Charles has a transcendent deathbed experience, suggesting he is saved; by contrast, the heedless, disobedient Augusta burns up while playing with candles and is presumably damned.[52] Unlike previous allegorical literature with these themes, such as Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, Sherwood domesticated her story—actions in the children's day-to-day lives, such as stealing fruit. These are supremely important because they relate directly to their salvation.[53] Each chapter includes thematically linked prayers and hymns, by Philip Doddridge, Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley, William Cowper, Ann and Jane Taylor, and others.[54]

The Fairchild Family remained in print until 1913, despite the increasingly popular Wordsworthian image of childhood innocence.[53] In fact, one scholar has suggested that it "influenced Dickens's depictions of Pip's fears of the convict, the gibbet, and 'the horrible young man' at the close of Chapter 1" in Great Expectations (1860–1861).[55] The children's literature scholar Gillian Avery has argued that The Fairchild Family was "as much a part of English childhood as Alice was later to become."[56] Although the book was popular, some scraps of evidence have survived suggesting that readers did not always interpret it as Sherwood would have wanted. Lord Frederic Hamilton writes, for instance, that "there was plenty about eating and drinking; one could always skip the prayers, and there were three or four very brightly written accounts of funerals in it."[57] Although The Fairchild Family has gained a reputation in the 20th century as an oppressively didactic book,[58] in the early 19th century it was viewed as delightfully realistic.[59] Charlotte Mary Yonge (1823–1901), a critic who also wrote children's literature, praised "the gusto with which [Sherwood] dwells on new dolls" and "the absolutely sensational naughtiness" of the children.[60] Most 20th-century critics, including George Orwell, who called it "an evil book", have condemned the book's harshness, pointing to the Fairchilds' moral-filled visit to a gibbet with a rotting corpse swinging from it; but Cutt and others argue that the positive depiction of the nuclear family in the text, particularly Sherwood's emphasis on parents' responsibility to educate their own children, was important to the book's appeal.[61] She argues that Sherwood's "influence," through books such as the Fairchild Family, "upon the domestic pattern of Victorian life can hardly be overestimated."[62]

The Fairchild Family was so successful that Sherwood wrote two sequels, in 1842 and 1847. These reflected her changing values as well as those of the Victorian period. Significantly, the servants in Part I, "who are almost part of the family, are pushed aside in Part III by their gossiping, flattering counterparts in the fine manor-house."[50] The most extensive thematic change in the series was the disappearance of evangelicalism. Whereas all of the lessons in Part I highlight the children's "human depravity" and encourage the reader to think in terms of the afterlife, in Parts II and III, other Victorian values such as "respectability" and filial obedience come to the fore.[63] Dawson describes the difference in terms of parental indulgence; in Parts II and III, the Fairchild parents employ softer disciplinary tactics than in Part I.[64]

Evangelical tract literature in the 1820s and 1830s

During the 1820s and 1830s, Sherwood wrote a great many tracts for the poor. Like her novels for the middle class, they "taught the lessons of personal endurance, reliance on Providence, and acceptance of one's earthly status."[65] Emphasizing individual experience and one's personal relationship with God, they discouraged readers from attributing their successes or failures to "larger economic and political forces."[65] In this, they resembled the Cheap Repository Tracts, many written by Hannah More. As Linda Peterson, a scholar of 19th-century women's literature, argues, Sherwood's tracts use a Biblical "interpretative frame" to highlight the fleetingness of earthly things.[66] For example, in A Drive in the Coach through the Streets of London (1819), Julia is granted the privilege of shopping with her mother only if she will "behave wisely in the streets" and "not give [her] mind to self-pleasing."[67] Of course, she cannot keep this promise and she eagerly peeks in at every store window and begs her mother to buy her everything she sees. Her mother therefore allows her to select one item from every shop. Julia, ecstatic, chooses, among other things, blue satin boots, a penknife, and a new hat with flowers, until the pair reach the undertaker's shop. There her mood droops considerably and she realizes the moral of the lesson, recited by her mother, as she picks out a coffin: "but she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth" (1 Timothy 5:6).[68]

Anti-Catholicism in the 1830s

Sherwood's vigorous anti-Catholicism appears most obviously in her works from the 1820s and 1830s. During the 1820s in Britain, Catholics were agitating for greater civil rights and it was at this time that Sherwood wrote her most sustained attacks against them. When the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829 was passed, Sherwood and many like her were frightened of the influence Catholics might gain in the government. So she wrote Victoria (1833), The Nun (1833)[69] and The Monk of Cimies (1834) to illustrate some of the supposed dangers of Catholicism. The Monk narrates, in the first person, Edmund Etherington's decision to renounce the Church of England and join the Catholic church. While a monk, he ridicules his fellow brothers, plans a murder and debauches a young woman.[70] Some evangelicals disagreed with her views on Catholic Emancipation and were uncomfortable with these books; one evangelical reviewer called The Monk of Cimies "unfair and unconvincing".[71]


While in India, Sherwood wrote a series of texts based on colonial life. Her most popular, The History of Little Henry and his Bearer (1814), tells of a young British boy who, on his deathbed, converts Boosy, the Indian man who has taken care of him throughout his childhood. The book was enormously successful; it reached 37 editions by 1850 and was translated into French, German, Spanish, Hindustani, Chinese, and Sinhalese.[31] Sherwood's tale blends the realistic with the sentimental and introduces her readers to Hindustani words and descriptions of what she felt was authentic Indian life.[72] As Cutt explains, "With this work, the obituary tract (which invariably stressed conversion and a Christian death) had assumed the colouring of romance."[72] Sherwood also wrote a companion story titled Little Lucy and her Dhaye (1825) that told a similar tale, but from a little girl's point of view.

In The Indian Pilgrim (1818) Sherwood tried to adapt Pilgrim's Progress to an Indian context, focusing on "the supposed depravity and pagan idolatry of Brahmans, fakirs, nautch (dance) girls, and soldiers' temporary wives."[31] The text shows Sherwood's religious biases: "Muslims and Jews receive better treatment than Hindus because of their belief in one God, but Roman Catholics fare little better than the Hindu idolaters."[73] The Indian Pilgrim, though never published in India, was popular in Britain and America.[73] Sherwood also wrote texts for Indian servants of British families in the style of British writings for the poor. One such was The Ayah and Lady (1813) in which the ayah or maid is "portrayed as sly, selfish, lazy, and untrustworthy. Her employers are well aware of her faults, yet they tolerate her."[73] A more culturally sensitive and realistic portrayal of Indians appears in The Last Days of Boosy (1842), a sequel to The History of Little Henry and his Bearer, where the converted Boosy is cast out of his family and community after his conversion to Christianity.[73]

Colonial themes were a thread in Sherwood's texts; The History of Henry Milner (1822–37), its sequel John Marten (1844), and The Indian Orphans (1839) all evince Sherwood's interest in these topics.[31] Her writings on India reveal her sense of superiority over the inhabitants of India; the subcontinent therefore appears in her works as a morally corrupt land in need of reformation.[74] She wrote The History of George Desmond (1821) to warn young men of the dangers of emigrating to India. Sherwood's books shaped the minds of several generations of young Britons. According to Cutt, Sherwood's depictions of India were among the few available to young British readers; such children "acquired a strong conviction of the rightness of missions, which, while it inculcated sincere concern for, and a genuine kindness towards an alien people for whom Britain was responsible, quite destroyed any latent respect for Indian tradition."[75] Cutt attributes the growing paternalism of 19th-century British policies on India in part to the widespread popularity of Sherwood's books.[citation needed]

Using a postcolonial analysis, Nandini Bhattacharya emphasizes the complex relationship between Sherwood's evangelicalism and her colonialism. She argues that Sherwood's evangelical stories demonstrate the deep colonial "mistrust of feminized agency", represented by a dying child in Little Henry and his Bearer. Henry "subvert[s] the colonialist's fantasy of universal identity by generating a subaltern identity that mimics and explodes that fantasy." But ultimately, Bhattacharya argues, Sherwood creates neither a wholly colonialist text nor a post-colonial text; the deaths of children such as Henry eliminate any possibility for an alternative consciousnesses to mature.[76]

Later writings: Victorianism

By 1830, Sherwood's works had drifted from evangelicalism. They reflected more conventional Victorian plots and themes. For example, Gipsy Babes (1826), perhaps inspired by Walter Scott's Guy Mannering (1815), emphasizes "human affections."[77] In 1835 came a Gothic novel for adolescents entitled Shanty the Blacksmith; it employs all the tropes of the genre — "lost heir, ruined castle, humble helpers and faithful retainer, sinister and mysterious gypsies, prisoner and plot" – in what Cutt calls "a gripping" and "exciting tale."[78] In 1835 Sherwood published the novel Caroline Mordaunt, telling of a young woman forced to become a governess. Her parents die when she is young, but luckily relatives pay to educate her, so that she can earn her own living. It follows her progress from a flighty, discontented girl to a reliable, content woman; she learns to accommodate herself to the whims of a proud nobility, silly literati, and dogmatic evangelicals. She realizes that in her dependent position she must be content with less than complete happiness. Once she recognizes this, though, she finds God, and in the last chapter an ideal husband, so granting her near-complete happiness after all. Cutt suggests that Sherwood drew on Jane Austen and Jane Taylor for a new "lively, humorous, and satirical strain" in works such as this.[79]

In both later works such as Caroline Mordaunt and her earlier evangelical texts, Sherwood followed the Victorian project of prescribing gender roles; while her later works outlined ever more stringent and narrow roles for each sex, her early works such as The Fairchild Family suggested demarcations as well: Lucy and Emily learn to sew and keep house while Henry tends the garden and learns Latin.[64]


As Britain's education system became more secular in the later 19th century, Sherwood's evangelical books were used mainly to teach the poor and in Sunday schools. So her missionary stories were the most influential of all her works, for according to Cutt, they "kept alive the missionary spirit and perpetuated that paternal attitude towards India that lasted into the [20th century], were widely imitated" and "an unfortunate assumption of racial superiority was fostered by the over-simplification of some of Mrs. Sherwood's successors."[80] They influenced Charlotte Maria Tucker ("A.L.O.E.") and even perhaps Rudyard Kipling.[81] In the United States, Sherwood's early works were popular and republished well into the 1840s; thereafter a tradition of specifically American children's literature began to develop with authors such as Louisa May Alcott.[82]

Sherwood was also instrumental in developing the ideology of the Victorian family. Cutt acknowledges that "the omniscient Victorian parent was not the creation of Mrs. Sherwood, but of the Victorians themselves; nevertheless, by presenting the parent as God's vicar in the family, she had planted and fostered the idea."[83] This in turn raised the value placed on childhood innocence.[original research?]

Prevalence of death in Sherwood's early stories and vivid portrayal of its worldly and otherworldly consequences have often caused 20th-century critics to deride her works.[84] Yet Sherwood's stories prepared the ground for writers such as Charles Kingsley and Charlotte Mary Yonge. It has even been surmised that John Ruskin used Henry Milner as the basis for his imaginative autobiography Praeterita (1885–1889).[85] Sherwood's narrative experiments with various genres allowed other writers to pursue innovative forms of children's fiction.[86] Indeed her imaginative use of tracts domesticated reformist literature and encouraged radicals such as Harriet Martineau to employ the same genre, if to opposite ends.[87] Due to the popularity of Sherwood's works and their impact on later writers, Janis Dawson writes, "though her books are no longer widely read, she is regarded as one of the most significant authors of children's literature of the nineteenth century."[88]

Selected works

This is a list of some of Sherwood's main works. A more complete list that includes her many chapbooks and religious tracts appears in the List of works by Mary Martha Sherwood.


  1. ^ Dawson, p. 281.
  2. ^ Cutt, pp. 97–98.
  3. ^ a b c Demers, "Mary Martha Sherwood"; Cutt, 1–2; Dawson, pp. 271–272.
  4. ^ The Life and Times of Mrs. Sherwood, p. 33.
  5. ^ The Life and Times of Mrs. Sherwood, p. 34.
  6. ^ Dawson, p. 271.
  7. ^ The Life and Times of Mrs. Sherwood, p. 50.
  8. ^ Gilchrist, pp. 44–53 and 81–93.
  9. ^ Smith, 2–3.
  10. ^ The Life and Times of Mrs. Sherwood, p. 11.
  11. ^ The Life and Times of Mrs. Sherwood, p. 82.
  12. ^ a b c Demers, "Mary Martha Sherwood"; Dawson, pp. 272–273.
  13. ^ Cutt, p. 2; Dawson, p. 272.
  14. ^ a b Dickins, Gordon (1987). An Illustrated Literary Guide to Shropshire. Shropshire Libraries, Shrewsbury. p. 63. ISBN 0-903802-37-6.
  15. ^ Demers, "Mary Martha Sherwood"; Cutt, p. 2.
  16. ^ Fauve-Chamoux, Antoinette. "Marriage, Widowhood, and Divorce." Family Life in Early Modern Times: 1500–1789. Eds. David I. Kertzer and Marzio Barbagli. New Haven: Yale University Press (2001).
  17. ^ Henry Martyn became a minister (Cutt, p. 4).
  18. ^ The Life and Times of Mrs. Sherwood; Cutt, pp. 3–5.
  19. ^ Robert James Nicholl Streeten married Emily Sherwood (1811–1833) on 16 November 1829 in Worcestershire. On Tuesday, 8 October 1833, she died from a persistent febrile disease.The Life of Mrs. Sherwood, (chiefly autobiographical) . Darton & Company. 1854. pp. 567–570.
  20. ^ The Life and Times of Mrs. Sherwood, pp. 280–290.
  21. ^ The Life and Times of Mrs. Sherwood, p. 303.
  22. ^ Cutt, p. 13; Dawson, p. 273.
  23. ^ Dawson, p. 273.
  24. ^ Cutt, 14–6; Dawson, pp. 273–275.
  25. ^ a b Cutt, 18.
  26. ^ The Life and Times of Mrs. Sherwood, pp. 326–327.
  27. ^ Demers, "Mary Martha Sherwood"; Cutt, p. 4; Dawson, pp. 277–278.
  28. ^ Smith, p. 62.
  29. ^ Demers, "Mary Martha Sherwood"; Dawson, p. 278.
  30. ^ Demers, "Mary Martha Sherwood"; Dawson, p. 280.
  31. ^ a b c d e Demers, "Mary Martha Sherwood".
  32. ^ Cutt, pp. 92–93.
  33. ^ Demers, "Mary Martha Sherwood"; Cutt, p. 5.
  34. ^ Cutt, p. x.
  35. ^ Demers, "Mrs. Sherwood and Hesba Stretton", p. 143.
  36. ^ Demers, "Mrs. Sherwood and Hesba Stretton", 143.
  37. ^ Dawson, p. 272.
  38. ^ a b Cutt, p. 43.
  39. ^ Hanson, p. 50.
  40. ^ Quoted in Dawson, p. 278.
  41. ^ Dawson, p. 278.
  42. ^ Hanson, p. 55.
  43. ^ Cutt, pp. 38–39; Demers, "Mrs. Sherwood and Hesba Stretton, p. 133.
  44. ^ a b c d e f Cutt, pp. 38–39.
  45. ^ Demers, "Mrs. Sherwood and Hesba Stretton", p. 137.
  46. ^ Dawson, p. 274.
  47. ^ Cutt, p. 86; Rosman, pp. 190–191.
  48. ^ Cutt, p. 41. See also Vallone, p. 85, and Harper, p. 4.
  49. ^ Demers, "Mrs. Sherwood and Hesba Stretton," p. 131.
  50. ^ a b Cutt, p. 60.
  51. ^ Vallone, p. 84.
  52. ^ Vallone, p. 86.
  53. ^ a b Cutt, p. 66.
  54. ^ Cutt, 77.
  55. ^ Lois E. Chaney, "Pip and the Fairchild Family". Dickensian 79.3, 1983, pp. 162–163.
  56. ^ Quoted in Harper, p. 3.
  57. ^ Quoted in Cutt, p. 67.
  58. ^ Dawson, p. 270; Harper, pp. 2–3.
  59. ^ Cutt, p. 67.
  60. ^ Quoted in Dawson, p. 277; see also Rosman, pp. 114–115.
  61. ^ Cutt, p. 68; see also Harper, p. 5.
  62. ^ Cutt, p. 41.
  63. ^ Cutt, p. 76.
  64. ^ a b Dawson, p. 277.
  65. ^ a b Peterson, pp. 416–417.
  66. ^ Peterson, p. 421.
  67. ^ Quoted in Peterson, p. 417.
  68. ^ Peterson, 420–421.
  69. ^ Maureen Moran, Catholic Sensationalism and Victorian Literature (2007), p. 77.
  70. ^ Demers, "Mrs. Sherwood and Hesba Stretton, p. 145.
  71. ^ Quoted in Dawson, p. 278
  72. ^ a b Cutt, pp. 17–18.
  73. ^ a b c d Dawson, pp. 274–275.
  74. ^ Cutt, p. 20; Dawson, p. 273; Demers, "Mrs. Sherwood and Hesba Stretton," p. 134.
  75. ^ Cutt, p. 21.
  76. ^ Bhattacharya, p. 383.
  77. ^ Cutt, p. 87.
  78. ^ Cutt, p. 89.
  79. ^ Cutt, p. 90.
  80. ^ Cutt, 97.
  81. ^ Dawson, p. 280.
  82. ^ Dawson, pp. 271 and 275.
  83. ^ Cutt, p. 98.
  84. ^ Dawson, p. 270.
  85. ^ Hanson, pp. 45–47.
  86. ^ Cutt, 99.
  87. ^ Peterson, pp. 416 ff. See also Vallone, pp. 83–89.
  88. ^ Dawson, pp. 280–281.
  89. ^ Cutt, p. 144.


There is no complete scholarly biography of Sherwood. Most biographical detail in Cutt, Dawson, Demers and Smith is drawn from Sherwood's autobiography, which is itself a compilation of her manuscript, some diary entries and some sections added by a later editor.

External links

Online full-text resources

Categories: 1775 births | 1851 deaths | 19th-century English women writers | 19th-century British writers | English evangelicals | English women novelists | English religious writers | People from Malvern Hills District | Women religious writers | Chapbook writers | English women non-fiction writers

Information as of: 27.06.2021 05:16:49 CEST

Source: Wikipedia (Authors [History])    License : CC-BY-SA-3.0

Changes: All pictures and most design elements which are related to those, were removed. Some Icons were replaced by FontAwesome-Icons. Some templates were removed (like “article needs expansion) or assigned (like “hatnotes”). CSS classes were either removed or harmonized.
Wikipedia specific links which do not lead to an article or category (like “Redlinks”, “links to the edit page”, “links to portals”) were removed. Every external link has an additional FontAwesome-Icon. Beside some small changes of design, media-container, maps, navigation-boxes, spoken versions and Geo-microformats were removed.

Please note: Because the given content is automatically taken from Wikipedia at the given point of time, a manual verification was and is not possible. Therefore does not guarantee the accuracy and actuality of the acquired content. If there is an Information which is wrong at the moment or has an inaccurate display please feel free to contact us: email.
See also: Legal Notice & Privacy policy.