Mary Sherwood was a writer of fiercely didactic and moralistic tales for children which emphasise sin and the likelihood of damnation for those who do not achieve salvation. The History of the Fairchild Family is perhaps her most successful and popular series of stories for young readers.
The narrative focuses on the Fairchild family – mother, father, and children Lucy, Emily and Henry. The story is characterised by religiosity and didacticism with Hell an ever-present threat. It is the duty of the Fairchild parents to ensure that their children achieve salvation by raising them in an appropriately devout manner.
Each chapter of the novel has its moral lesson, ranging from Henry being locked in a room at the top of the house for stealing and lying, to the story of Augusta Noble, an aristocratic child from an impious household, who dies after being burnt because she disobeys parental instructions and so, metaphorically, is enveloped in hellfire.
|Author:||Sherwood, Mary (1775-1851)|
|Title:||The History of the Fairchild Family, or The Child's Manual|
|Publisher:||London: J. Hatchard, 1818|
|Flysheets and contents page||Introduction|
|Creation of all things by the Sacred Three in One||Man before the Fall|
|General depravity of Mankind in all countries after the Fall||Story on the Commandments|
|Mrs Fairchild's story||On Envy|
|Story on the Sixth Commandment||On the formation of Sin in the heart, or The story of the apples|
|Story of the constant bent of Man's heart towards Sin||Story on the secret Sins of the heart|
|Story on Ambition, or The wish to be great||On the Fourth Commandment, or A Sunday at Mr Fairchild's|
|The All-Seeing God||Emily's recovery, or A visit to Mrs Goodwill|
|Second day at Mrs Goodwill's with The old story of Mrs Cutshorter||On Death|
|Fatal effects of disobedience to parents||The three books|
|The story in Emily's book: On Faith to be exercised in the common concerns of life.||The story in Lucy's book|
|Second part of the story in Lucy's book||A story on besetting Sins|
|Story on love to our parents, or A visit to Mary Bush||Story on the absence of God|
|Second story on the misery of those who are under the anger of God, exemplified by the unhappiness of a child under the anger of his father.||A happy death|
|Works lately published by J. Hatchard|
Read The History of the Fairchild Family by Mary Sherwood as a single PDF here (35.5MB).