The Story of “Home Education”

The Story of “Home Education”

El artículo está disponible en español.

In 1885, Charlotte Mason was a published author who had written several books on geography, but not on the general topic of education. Nevertheless, she had gained a great deal of experience from teaching at the Davison School and the Bishop Otter Memorial College. She had also read many books, both scientific and spiritual, and many ideas were taking shape in her mind.

Mason began to attend St. Mark’s Church in Manningham and met pastor Edward Wynne and his wife. Wynne had “looked into” Mason’s book on the forty shires and found it a “most instructive little Book.”[1] When the church began a building project, Mason offered to deliver a series of lectures to raise funds. Mr. and Mrs. Wynne gladly accepted the offer, and the “course” of the eight lectures Mason presented through that winter were as follows:

  1. Some Preliminary Conditions
  2. Out-of-Door Life for Children
  3. “Habit is Ten Natures”
  4. Some Habits of Mind—Some Moral Habits
  5. Lessons as Instruments of Education
  6. The Will—The Conscience—The Divine Life in the Child
  7. The Relations Between School Life and Home Life—School Discipline and Home Training
  8. Young Maidenhood—The Formation of Character and Opinions

Mr. Wynne read the manuscript for the sixth lecture, and then wrote to Miss Mason:

You go to the heart of the matter and deal with the whole question in a thoroughly practical way. I have been greatly struck with some of the counsels you lay down for the religious training of the child, knowing them to be opposed to the ordinary practice of worthy Christian parents, but convinced that they are adapted to develop a healthy spiritual character. … I am satisfied that the publication of these lectures will be an immense boon to the cause of Christian education.[2]

In short order the eight lectures were collected into a single volume. The first edition was published by Kegan Paul, Trench & Co. in 1886 and entitled Home Education: A Course of Lectures to Ladies, Delivered in Bradford, in the Winter of 1885-1886. The author is specified as Charlotte M. Mason, “Sometime lecturer on education and teacher of human physiology at the Bishop Otter College, Chichester.” The book was well-received and directly led to the establishment of the Parents’ National Educational Union, and eventually propelled Mason to national and even international fame.

The first edition sold out and led to a second and then third edition. I have had the pleasure of reviewing a copy of the third edition, bearing the publication date of 1904 and the shortened title Home Education: A Course of Lectures to Ladies. The author is now said to be Charlotte M. Mason, “Principal of the House of Education Ambleside.” The book contains the same eight lectures as in the first edition. But two appendices have been added. The first is Charlotte Mason’s translation from the French of “The Imperative Demand,” by Eugène Bersier. The significance of this work is explained in an article by Dr. Benjamin Bernier. The second appendix is entitled simply “Fragment” and contains a fascinating assortment of extracts from Mason’s writings produced after 1886.

The next year was a major milestone in the codification of Mason’s philosophy. The year was 1905 and Home Education became not just a book but a series, the “‘Home Education’ Series.” The first volume was entitled Home Education, but it was not the same eight lectures of the third edition and earlier. Rather, lectures 7 and 8 were moved to volume 5 of the series, and much of the content of the “Fragments” was moved to the appropriate places in the first six lectures. Also content from Parents’ Review articles and new writings were incorporated in various places. The title of the volume was further abbreviated to simply Home Education, and now the author is Charlotte M. Mason – apparently it was no longer deemed necessary to explain who she was.

The fourth edition contained a new preface, and the table of contents used different terms: instead of Lecture I, Lecture II, and so on, it referred to Part I, Part II, and so on, all the way up to Part VI, the part that made such an impression on Reverend Wynne. Also new in the fourth edition was the Synopsis, which had recently been approved by the PNEU Executive Committee. At this time, there were 18 principles which summarized Mason’s philosophy of education. Sadly, however, the third edition appendices were dropped. “The Imperative Demand” was dropped in favor of four new appendices:

  1. List of Books
  2. Questions for the Use of Students
  3. The Examination of a Child of Seven Upon a Term’s Work on the Lines Indicated in This Volume
  4. The Examination of a Child of Nine Upon a Term’s Work

The following year, the fifth edition was published. I have examined a scan of that edition which bears a publication date of 1906. Many additional editions were published over the years, culminating in a fifteenth edition in 1942. But the last major changes were for the fourth edition in 1905. All subsequent editions followed the same pagination and contents of the fourth. Although at some point, three of the appendices were dropped, leaving only the second: “Questions for the Use of Students.”

After the fifteenth edition by Kegan Paul, Trench & Co., Home Education gradually dropped out of circulation. Some of these old editions can still be found by the collector, but they ceased to be the standard reference for education that they used to be. In fact, in 1986 even the original publisher discarded their remaining inventory. But a few months later a miracle took place. A year and a century after Home Education was first published, Dean and Karen Andreola obtained a 1925 printing of the book in England. Of course, it followed the pagination and contents of the standard fourth edition, and included the single appendix on “Questions for the Use of Students.” In 1989, a facsimile edition was printed, which became the “Charlotte Mason Research & Supply edition.” But few people refer to it in such formal language. Most of us affectionately refer to it and its accompanying volumes as “the pinks.”

In December of 2004 I obtained my own copy of “the pinks.” I quickly read through the first volume, and the ideas of Charlotte Mason became firmly implanted in my lifestyle. The “Charlotte Mason Research & Supply edition” became the standard version for modern CM educators. The books were seen at reading groups and conferences across the country.

But eventually these small paperbacks also went out of print. Fortunately, in 2017 Simply Charlotte Mason published a new “Authorized” reprint of the “Charlotte Mason Research & Supply edition.” It opens with a lovely new reflection by Dean Andreola entitled “Foreword to the Simply Charlotte Mason Edition.” And so once again Home Education is in print and available at an affordable price. Simply Charlotte Mason also released a wonderful PDF facsimile version, which is the version I used for my daily reading. (With my lifestyle, it is necessary for me to carry my library on my tablet.)

The transcription team at Charlotte Mason Poetry obtained scans of the public domain 1904 third edition and 1906 fifth edition of Home Education. As we’ve reviewed the scans, we’ve asked ourselves a few questions:

  • Wouldn’t it be nice to bring the original appendix, “The Imperative Demand,” back into circulation for modern readers?
  • Wouldn’t it be nice to restore the missing three appendices from the fourth edition that have been dropped from all later reprints of Home Education?
  • What if we applied our high-fidelity and high-accuracy transcription process to this seminal work by Charlotte Mason?

The answer to that question is the basis for an announcement we are making today. We are releasing a new online edition to take its place in the story of Home Education. It is the Charlotte Mason Poetry Online Edition, and has these distinctive features:

1. It is designed first and foremost for online viewing. Page numbers follow the fourth edition (and the “pinks”) but are inserted inline with the text so as not to interrupt the reader. This allows the best in readability while still making it possible to share with others what page you are on.

2. It contains no editorial additions or clarifications. You only see what Charlotte Mason herself approved. Everything was transcribed directly from editions published in Mason’s lifetime.

3. It contains everything: All the front matter, the table of contents, and the appendices; everything that greeted the historical reader of these volumes.

4. It contains the appendices from the third edition, text which is not available in other online or print versions.

5. It was developed using the Charlotte Mason Poetry transcription process which has proven to result in very high-quality transcriptions with very few errors. We wanted to create a text that you could copy and paste with confidence.

6. It incorporates the formatting of the original edition. This includes typeface alterations such as bold, italics, and small-caps. It also includes indentation and line spacing to match the original as closely as possible. Why did we follow this formatting so carefully? Because just as facial expression accompanies the spoken word and gives it shades of meaning, so do typeface customizations deliver a shade of meaning to the written word. Now you can see a transcribed version that has the formatting attributes that consistently match the original.

7. It supports direct hyperlinks to individual pages. Now you can email a friend or post in social media with a link to the exact page where you found a particular quote. Simply append the page number to the URL. For example, to share a link to page 11, append #p11 to the URL as follows:

There is one more distinctive feature of the Charlotte Mason Poetry Online Edition. It is perhaps the most important distinction: this edition is absolutely free. By that we mean it is free for you to use in any way you want, with no strings attached. What do we mean by that? We mean that you can translate it, print it, and even publish it commercially. The text is our gift for the community. Charlotte Mason Poetry is a labor of love. Our goal is to promote Charlotte Mason’s ideas. And we hope that an absolutely free edition of Home Education will go a long way to getting these words and ideas into the hands of more people.

One hundred and thirty-four years after the publication of Home Education, it is hard to improve upon the words of Rev. Wynne. He wrote, “I am satisfied that the publication of these lectures would be an immense boon to the cause of Christian education.”[3] We feel exactly the same way today. We hope that every Christian educator will have the opportunity to read Home Education. And we hope this gift to the community will bring us one step closer to that ideal.

Read Home Education at this link:


[1] Handwritten letter from Edward Wynne to Charlotte Mason, dated July 4, 1881. Page i1p2pneu28 in the PNEU Archive.

[2] Handwritten letter from Edward Wynne to Charlotte Mason, dated March 31, 1886. Pages i3p2pneu28-i3p3pneu28 in the PNEU Archive.

[3] Ibid.

10 Replies to “The Story of “Home Education””

  1. CMP continues to be an amazing place I send ALL CM newbies. And now my mind is blown at the dedication and ability to research and make this type of thing come to life. In 2017 when I heard “the pinks” went out of print I knew that was NOT going to happen on my watch! The owners of “the pinks” were already in touch with others and I could not figure out the transcription process nor find all the volumes in public domain to publish on my own and with 4 littles and a newborn to care for. Even now I am a physical book person and don’t read online books, hardly read blogs/articles and I would still love to figure out how to print hardcovers the way I want them, yet I am so grateful to CMP. You blow my mind in your ability to research, articulate, and then generously share all your knowledge and hard work for free with us. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    1. Bethany. Thank you for your kind words. ?
      CM’s wisdom is so wonderful that it just *has* to be shared!

  2. Bravo!!! This is fantastic!! What a wonderful gift! I’m excited to look at the book list appendix, in particular, and glean from that. I’d love to see a follow-up article on possibilities on why the appendices were changed and dropped. You’ve got my “hmmm, I wonder” wheels turning ❤

    1. Debi! You are welcome! Let us know what you think of the Appendices, once you’ve spent a little time there. ?

  3. Christy
    Welcome! We are so glad you found us ?
    Be sure to check out our podcast as well! All the best to you

  4. it is beautiful! i recognize and am grateful for the dedication, hard work and generosity poured forth in this new edition.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *