Friendly Visitor. 1833. 34. 35.

By Wm Carus Wilson

Printed: 1833-1835

Publisher: A Foster. Kirby Londsale

Dimensions 12 × 19 × 4 cm

Language: English

Size (cminches): 12 x 19 x 4

Condition: Very good  (See explanation of ratings)

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Item information


Brown calf spine with green title plate, gilt banding and lettering. Brown and black marbled boards. Spine professionally repaired.

F.B.A. provides an in-depth photographic presentation of this item to stimulate your feel and touch. More traditional book descriptions are immediately available.

A Gospel Magazine for the People

Carus Wilson established and edited The Friendly Visitor (in 1819) and most notably The Children’s Friend, “the first penny periodicals that ever appeared in England of the kind”.The latter, which he founded in 1824, was to long survive him, ceasing publication in 1930.

William Carus Wilson (7 July 1791 – 30 December 1859) was an English churchman and the founder and editor of the long-lived monthly The Children’s Friend. He was the inspiration for Mr Brocklehurst, the autocratic head of Lowood School, depicted by Charlotte Brontë in her 1847 novel Jane Eyre. In 1823 he established at Cowan Bridge the Clergy Daughters’ School for low-cost education of daughters of poorer members of the clergy. The fees were very low, subsidised by donations made by Carus Wilson and others. Its patron was the Archbishop of York and its President was the Bishop of Chester, and one of the benefactors was the slavery abolitionist William Wilberforce. It was intended to assist “Clergymen with limited incomes, in the education of their children”. (This school later moved to Casterton where it continued as the independent Casterton School, and subsequently (from 2013) the preparatory department of Sedbergh School. One of Sedbergh School’s three girls’ houses is named Carus after Carus Wilson, following the arrival of pupils from Casterton Senior School.)

The author Charlotte Brontë was a pupil at Cowan Bridge in 1824/25 and attended Sunday services at Tunstall church. She featured the school in Jane Eyre as “Lowood”. She based her character Robert Brocklehurst on Carus Wilson. Brocklehurst is presented as a hypocrite:

He attests to his morality and charity and that all men, and especially young girls should be brought up in a way that teaches them humility and respect for their betters and he uses God and the Bible to make his points. He threatens his “wards” with hell and damnation if they don’t walk the line that he pretends to walk himself… his charitable actions are no more than a cover for what he believes will get him into heaven and a means to promote his superiority, his family and their wealth. (Suzanne Hesse)

In the year of Jane Eyre’s publication Carus Wilson reportedly took legal advice with a view to suing for defamation, but desisted on receiving a letter of explanation and apology from the author.  However, the novel was published as the work of the pseudonymous Currer Bell, and it is not clear how many of its first readers of the book would have been in a position to make the connection between Lowood and Carus Wilson’s foundation. In a letter to her publisher W.S. Williams, Charlotte describes overhearing an elderly clergyman talk about reading Jane Eyre and saying “Why, they have got Cowan Bridge School, and Mr. Wilson here, I declare! and Miss Evans.” She says, “He had known them all. I wondered whether he would recognise the portraits, and was gratified to find that he did, and that, moreover, he pronounced them faithful and just. He said, too, that Mr. Wilson ‘deserved the chastisement he had got.'” The connection between Lowood and the Clergy Daughters’ School was made explicit in The Life of Charlotte Brontë published in 1857 after Brontë’s death. The following year Carus Wilson’s son William Wilson Carus-Wilson wrote his 20-page Refutation of the Statements in ‘The Life of Charlotte Bronte’ 

Condition notes

Boards scuffed

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