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part 1.
Hesba Stretton,
the author of Jessica's first Prayer and Jessica's Mother, among others.
Hesba Stretton was the pen name of Sarah Smith (1832 1911), who was one of the most popular Evangelical writers of the 19th century. Her father was a bookseller and manager of the local post office. Her mother was a deeply religious woman who raised the children in a strict religious manner. After Sarah had worked for her father in the business for some time, she moved to Manchester with her sister Elisabeth in 1863. There she began writing under the pseudonym Hesba Stretton. Her first name is a combination of the first letters of her siblings' first names, H (Hannah or sometimes called Harriett), E (Elizabeth), S (Sarah), B (Benjamin), and A (Annie), the last name Stretton refers to Church Stretton, a picturesque town near her birthplace. Sarah used her Christian principles as a protest against specific social evils in her children's books.

The book that won her widespread fame was Jessica's First Prayer, first published in the journal Sunday at Home in 1866 and the following year in book form. By the end of the 19th century it had sold at least a million and a half copies, outselling even Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Her other works included Little Meg's Children (1868), 'Nelly's Dark Days' and Alone in London (1869). As a sequel to Jessica's First Prayer, Jessica's Mother was published in 1868. Many of her books have been translated, also into Dutch. They were regularly reprinted.

Together with supporters, she founded The London Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children in 1884. She also contributed socially in other ways. Sarah Smith died on October 8, 1911 in Ham Common Surrey.

Jessica's Prayer.

At last six different versions are known. This one is made by the English manufacturer York & Son, (1884) and consists of maximum 28 slides (10 slides plus 18 hymn slides for use as service of song).
1. The coffee stall and its keeper. 2. Jessica's Temptation. 3. An Old Friend in a new dress.
4. Peep into Fairyland. 5. A New World opens. 6. The First Prayer.
7. Hard Questions. 8. An Unexpected Visitor. 9. Jessica's First Prayer answered.
Jessica is a homeless girl in Victorian London, abandoned by an alcoholic actress mother, who finds comfort and religious support in her regular visits to a coffee stall. Thanks to its Methodist owner, Daniel Standring, Jessica discovers religion; in turn, Standring gains repentance through Jessica from his money-grabbing lifestyle.
10. The Shadow of Death.
Another version, made by an unidentified manufacturer, possibly W.C. Hughes or Alfred Pumphrey (c. 1887).
Slide # 2 is still missing.
1. The Coffee Stall. 2. A Free Breakfast. 3. Jessica's Temptation.
4. An Old Friend. 5. Behind the Door. 6. Discovered.
7. Peeps into Fairyland. 8. Jessica's First Prayer. 9. An Unexpected Visitor.
10. Jessica Ill. 11. The Shadow of Death. 12. Restored.

Jessica's Mother
The sequel to Jessica's First Prayer
This set consists of 52 lantern slides. There is also a shortened version of 42 slides. The manufacturer is Bamforth & Co.
In this sequel to "Jessica's First Prayer," Jessica, Daniel and the pastor were in church when a tragedy occurred. Daniel went home and discovered Jessica's mother crouched on his doorstep. She looked like a pile of rags and defiantly asked for Jessica. Daniel grew closer to God spiritually as he sought to know how Jesus would respond.
0. Introduction -Title slide 1. The illuminated windows of Church or Chapel cast a pleasant gleam 2. For a minute Jessica stood behind the minister's chair
3. 'I don't know anything but what you've taught me,' replied Jessica 4. The vestry door was opened by Daniel, coming for the pulpit books 4a. 'Standing,' he said, 'I have something of importance to say to you'
5. The minister bowed down his head in silent supplication 6. Jessica ran up the pulpit steps and touched him timidly with her hand 7. 'He isn't taken with death, Miss Jane, it's only a stroke,' said Jessica
8. The children were gathering strength and comfort from Jessica's words 9. They were walking homewards, one on each side of Jessica 10. They sat down by the fire which was burning brightly
11. Opening the door a little way they saw their father's face as he was carried 12. 'Please, God, your papa will be all right again soon,' said Daniel 13. Daniel was wending his way alone through the fog and damp
14. There was a dim light from the entrance to the Court 15. 'Come, come,' he said, 'you've no business here' 16. The woman was standing up now, but leaning her back against the door
17. The woman flung herself into Daniel's chair 18. Daniel pondered when left alone, and was full of doubt 18a. Daniel enquired about the Minister's health, and was very anxious
19. 'Couldn't you ask God,' suggested Jessica 20. 'See your mother!' repeated Daniel in astonishment 21. She fell on her knees before the minister's chair and covered her face
21a. 'I'll go home with you,' said Jessica, rising from her knees 22. Jessica's quick eye saw a woman's figure leaning against the door 22a. The woman flung her arms about Jessica
23. Jessica whispered into Daniel's ear
24. 'Oh! I wish I was a better woman!' she cried, clinging to Jessica 25. She crept to Daniel's side and pleaded for her mother
25a. He remained motionless, staring at the wretched woman 26. 'I'll go away with her to-night and return in the morning,' she said 27. Jessica had led her mother to the door
27a. Jessica walked between her mother and Daniel 28. Her mother had thrown herself across the bed, and was asleep already 29. Daniel felt depressed and down-hearted as he prepared for the coming Sunday
30. He dusted the pulpit and shook the cushions, as he thought about his master 31. 'Mr Daniel,' she said, taking his hand in both her own 32. Daniel knelt down with Jessica beside him
33. They went on with their work sweeping and dusting the Chapel 34. Daniel examined his books to see how much money he had out at interest 35. Jessica was sewing and Daniel was sitting opposite to her
35a. Jessica had dropped her sewing, and she flung her arms round his neck 36. Daniel listened to the sermon and took in all that was said 37. 'He is talking to God,' whispered Jessica, in a tone of awe
37a. She went to the minister's side when she saw his eyes open 38. Daniel saw Jessica's mother seated at one of the fires 38a. Jessica's mother started to her feet and Daniel faced her
39. Daniel followed her through the dark and foggy streets 40. He missed his footing and fell among the debris 41. Jessica watched by him very attentively
The slides that do not appear in the shortened version have an 'a' added to the slide number. The numbering of the slides is taken from Lucerna; perhaps it continues from 1 to 52.
It is not certain that the title slide belongs to this series or that it was added from another series.
42. The minister arrived, pale in face, and bowed down with weakness
42a. Jessica told the minister the subject of their previous conversation

More from Hesba Stretton


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