Elizabeth Fry: Angel of Newgate by Janet & Geoff Benge – A Book Review

Cuddle Bug and I are cruising along in our Heroes of History series.

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Most recently, we completed Elizabeth Fry: Angel of Newgate by Janet & Geoff Benge.  I had never heard of Elizabeth Fry before, so we both enjoyed reading this book and learning more about her.

Elizabeth Fry was a Quaker who was born into a family of many children; sadly, her mother died when Elizabeth was only eleven years old.  Elizabeth was prone to anxiety, but despite her mother’s death, she thrived thanks to her older sister who took over running the family in her mother’s stead.

When she was 20 years old, Elizabeth, who had then become a Plain Quaker (a more strict form of the Quaker religion), was courted by Joseph Fry, also a Plain Quaker.  Elizabeth couldn’t decide if she should marry Joseph because she didn’t want to think about leaving her close-knit family.  In the end, she does marry him, but the first year was tumultuous as quiet, shy, anxiety-prone Elizabeth adjusted to life in the city and entertaining.

Soon, Elizabeth had their first child, and in fairly quick succession, she went on to have a total of eleven children, though one was stillborn.  Elizabeth was prone to post-partum depression after each pregnancy, and she would be overcome with sadness for several months after each child’s birth.

Elizabeth, even when she was living at home with her family before she married, had a giving heart.  At her home she created a school for all of the children of the workers around her father’s home, and after she married Joseph, she again set up a school.

Elizabeth helped so many people including gypsies and the Irish.  When two Quakers came to her home and told her about the state of Newgate Prison, Elizabeth knew she had to help.  Although the guards did not want to let her in, the female inmates respected and listened to her, and she made many important prison reforms to make the prisoners’, as well as their children’s, lives better.

Cuddle Bug absolutely loved this story.  I highly recommend it, especially if you, like me, don’t know much (or anything) about Elizabeth Fry.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.

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