Long before Twitter and the cult of the micro-blogging personality, there were writers producing heaps of materials and resources that today would be subject to conference selfies and viral sharing.
So many writers have been part of our educational legacy but only a few get the attention they deserve. Mrs Martha Sherwood is one of them.
Mary Martha Sherwood (née Butt; 6 May 1775 – 22 September 1851) was a prolific and influential writer of children’s literature in 19th-century Britain.
She composed over 400 books, tracts, magazine articles, and chapbooks and her writing towers over that of any other children’s writer of the time.
Among her best known works are The History of Little Henry and his Bearer (1814), The History of Henry Milner (1822–37), and The History of the Fairchild Family (1818–47).
Martha Sherwood is known primarily for her strong evangelicalism but her later works are characterised by common Victorian themes, such as domesticity.
Theories diffused by Mrs Sherwood’s writing dominated education for 50 years yet how many people today could say they had even heard of her?
It’s time to rediscover the glory of chapbooks and the hidden writers of the past.