Hidden Treasure

In our home education journey we sometimes come across the unexpected. Sometimes a treasure is hidden in a surprising place and finding it is only the beginning.

When I started home education, the search for good Bible teaching materials for very tiny children was frustrating. I could never find quite what I wanted. Then a kind relative sent me a copy of a little old book. It did not look very inspiring but it turned out to be a treasure. The author was evidently gifted in teaching very young children and had taken great trouble to distil Bible teaching and the Bible narrative into something clear, simple, and ideally suited to tiny tots. Even reading her prefatory remarks struck a chord:

“from a very early period a mother will, by casual remarks, endeavour to lead her child to the knowledge of his Creator and Redeemer; and in due time she will impart systematic instruction...”

Yes! Exactly! Through the day you carefully ensure the child knows that God is the giver of all good things, He made the world; when things go wrong this is due to human sin; naughtiness is more than just something that makes Mummy and Daddy cross. This begins imperceptibly and you are telling your child these things well before he can understand the words you say.

I started using the little book a tiny section at a time with my child on my lap. I found his interest was engaged and he could understand. Tiny bit by tiny bit we worked our way through the little book. I discovered the author's name. I found more books she had written. Gradually these books became the anchor of our home school day. I had found a treasure!

This was all before the days of the internet. Actually although I did not know it, two of the books were still in print and had never been out of print since they appeared in the 1830s! When, much later, I began scanning the ten little books to form the backbone of the Mothers' Companion I became curious about the author. I knew her name was “Mrs Mortimer” because, unlike the original copies, one of the more recent ones (c.1930) I owned carried her name. I did some research and found a biography of her by her niece, Mrs F. B. Meyer, wife of the well known founder of Melbourne Hall, Leicester. This puzzling document raised more questions but by now I had the internet and I began finding answers. The story that unfolded was so fascinating that I had to write it down. Piece by piece an intelligent, creative and godly woman stepped out of the shadows. A woman whose little children's book sold more copies in Britain than any single Dickens novel, whose books were devoured on the other side of the Atlantic, pirated, translated into thirty-seven (!) languages... Imagine a book that almost every child knew from the age of five and under! A book that tells the story of the Gospel in easy language! Hers was the hand that rocked the spiritual cradle of generations. Now published by John Ritchie as Not Without Tears, her life story is compelling.