Sarah Drew

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Cœlebs in Search of a Wife

by Hannah More

Charles Doyle's frontispiece for Coelebs the Younger in Search of a Wife

Coelebs in Search of a Wife: Comprehending Observations on Domestic Habits and Manners, Religion and Morals (1809) is a novel by the British Christian moralist Hannah More (1745-1833).
The novel focuses on Charles, a well-to-do young man who tries to find a wife who can meet the lofty moral requirements laid down by his mother. The book was extremely popular when it was published. Its novelistic narrative combined with religious lessons helped it to become the first nineteenth century novel to be accepted enthusiastically by the large religious reading public. Wikipedia


Cœlebs is, frankly, unreadable. It’s nearly 900 pages of turgid moralising with no discernible plot, no sympathetic characters and – fatally – no humour.

To add insult to injury, my edition retains the long S which is ſo not eaſy to read at ſpeed.

So why bother with it at all?