In this, Hannah More’s only novel and an early nineteenth-century best-seller, More gives voice to a wealthy twenty-three-year-old bachelor, who styles himself “Coelebs” (unmarried), but seeks a wife. After the death of his father, Coelebs journeys from the north of England to London, where he encounters a fashionable array of eager mothers and daughters before he visits the Hampshire home of his father’s friend, Mr. Stanley. Lucilla Stanley, Mr. Stanley’s daughter, is both an intellectual and a domestic woman, and Coelebs’ ideal partner. In this intelligent novel about the meeting of two minds, More shows the ways in which a couple becomes truly “matched” as opposed to merely “joined.”
Along with a critical introduction, this Broadview edition includes a wide selection of historical documents, from reviews, imitations, and sequels of Coelebs in Search of a Wife to related contemporary writings on conduct, courtship, and women’s education.