In this, Hannah More’s only novel and an early nineteenth-century best-seller, More gives voice to a wealthy twenty-three-year-old bachelor, who styles himself “Coelebs” (unmarried), but seeks a wife. After the death of his father, Coelebs journeys from the north of England to London, where he encounters a fashionable array of eager mothers and daughters before he visits the Hampshire home of his father’s friend, Mr. Stanley. Lucilla Stanley, Mr. Stanley’s daughter, is both an intellectual and a domestic woman, and Coelebs’ ideal partner. In this intelligent novel about the meeting of two minds, More shows the ways in which a couple becomes truly “matched” as opposed to merely “joined.”
Along with a critical introduction, this Broadview edition includes a wide selection of historical documents, from reviews, imitations, and sequels of Coelebs in Search of a Wife to related contemporary writings on conduct, courtship, and women’s education.
“This is an expert edition of the religious novel of Hannah More that is structured on a long and varied series of beguiling cautionary and exemplary character studies. The cautionary characters, gently satirically treated, are deliciously entertaining; the exemplary characters are also (perhaps) unexpectedly delightful in the balance, humor, good sense, and faith that provide their enviable superiority. There can be no better album of cultivated personages in the first decade of the 19th century.” — Betty Rizzo, City College of New York