Let Her Speak for Herself: Nineteenth-Century Women Writing on the Women of Genesis

By Marion Ann Taylor; Heather E. Weir | Go to book overview

§4 Favell Lee Mortimer
(1802–1878)

Favell Lee Mortimer was born in London, the second daughter of David Bevan, a banker, and Favell Bourke. She was educated at home and loved reading from a young age. Early evangelical influences on her life included a governess and an independent minister. At 25 she experienced a conversion which made her leave her busy social world in London for a life devoted to the poor on her father's Wiltshire estate, where she began a school. Her experience teaching prompted her to write her first book published in 1836, The Peep of Day or A Series of the Earliest Religious Instruction the Infant Mind is Capable of Receiving. The book demonstrated her belief that the best way to teach children Christianity was by using simplified Bible stories. This first book became very popular. It was published many times in English in both Britain and North America, and translated into thirty-seven other languages for use in mission education. As a follow-up to The Peep of Day, Mortimer wrote other books on the Bible for children, including Line upon Line (1841), Precept upon Precept (1867), and The Kings of Israel and Judah (1872). She also wrote books on geography and on how to teach children to read. In 1841 Favell Bevan married the Rev. Thomas Mortimer, a widower with two daughters. After her husband died in 1850, Mortimer continued to write. She moved to Norfolk in 1862 where she also looked after six orphans. She died in August 1878.14

Mortimer's primary audience was young children. Her lessons focused on the ideas of sin and forgiveness which she explained using simple language. She highlighted the contrast between the happy life of Eve and Adam in the garden and their aging and death after the fall. Like Barton, Mortimer did not indicate that there was any difference between the punishment given to Adam and that given to Eve: both were driven from the garden and would eventually die. Their redemption came through God's Son. Mortimer connected the story of the fall and its consequences directly to the New Testament and atonement theology.

Like Barton, Mortimer's teaching was moralistic: they both emphasized the importance of good behaviour. Unlike Barton, who called children to repent, Mortimer assumed her readers' sins were covered and directed them to love God the Father and the Son, who had pity on us. Mortimer took a

14 Source: Rosemary Mitchell, "Mortimer, Favell Lee," in The Oxford Dictionary of National
Biography
39:377–78.

-38-

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