The History of the Fairchild Family by Mary Sherwood

Illustration from The History of the Fairchild Family by Mary Sherwood. Part of the Children's Literature Digital Collection.

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.

Bibliographical record

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 pageIntroduction
Creation of all things by the Sacred Three in OneMan before the Fall
General depravity of Mankind in all countries after the FallStory on the Commandments
Mrs Fairchild's storyOn Envy
Story on the Sixth CommandmentOn the formation of Sin in the heart, or The story of the apples
Story of the constant bent of Man's heart towards SinStory on the secret Sins of the heart
Story on Ambition, or The wish to be greatOn the Fourth Commandment, or A Sunday at Mr Fairchild's
The All-Seeing GodEmily's recovery, or A visit to Mrs Goodwill
Second day at Mrs Goodwill's with The old story of Mrs CutshorterOn Death
Fatal effects of disobedience to parentsThe 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 bookA story on besetting Sins
Story on love to our parents, or A visit to Mary BushStory 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).

Facebook icon    Twitter icon    Instagram icon    LinkedIn icon © Roehampton University