These stories by L.V. Hodgkin were first written for an eager listener of nine years old. But as the book has grown older, so has the age of its readers, for two reasons: First: because it was necessary to take for granted some knowledge of the course of English History at the period of the Civil Wars. Secondly: because the stories of the persecutions of the Early Friends are too harrowing for younger children. Even a very much softened and milder version was met with the repeated request: “Do, please, skip this part and make it come happy quickly.” I have preferred, therefore, to write for older boys and girls who will wish for a true account of suffering bravely borne; though without undue insistence on the physical side.
For to tell the stories of these lives without the terrible, glorious account of the cruel beatings, imprisonments, and even martyrdom in which they often ended here, is not truly to tell them at all. The tragic darkness in the picture is necessary to enhance its high lights. My youngest critic observes that “it does not matter so much what happens to grown-up people, because I can always skip that bit; but if anything bad is going to happen to children, you had better leave it out of your book altogether.” I have therefore obediently omitted the actual sufferings of children as far as possible, except in one or two stories where they are an essential part of the narrative.