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Mary Martha Sherwood, née Butts, was the daughter of a clergyman who served as a chaplain to King George III. She was well educated for a girl of her era, learning Latin and Greek and reading freely from her father's library. He encouraged her to write and helped her publish her first story, Traditions (1795). In 1802, she published her first novel, Margarita, followed by The History of Susan Grey. The following year, she married her cousin Captain Henry Sherwood, an officer in the British army, and accompanied him on numerous postings. In 1805, his regiment was ordered to India, where the family spent 11 years. The couple had seven children, four of whom died young. When they returned to England, Mrs. Sherwood opened a boarding school for girls in Wick, where she taught various subjects, including French, astronomy, history, geography, grammar, and arithmetic. She also became a prolific and influential author of religious tracts, novels, and popular works for children. She often published her works first in The Youth's Magazine, a children's magazine she edited for more than 20 years.
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