This article sheds light on the periodical Folkevennen (Friend of the People), published in Oslo from 1852, and discusses to what extent Great Britain was a role model for enlightened public thought in Norway in the 1850s. The reading presents contemporary source texts, and highlights how they are dependent upon the contexts and intellectual surroundings in which they are embedded. Great Britain can be viewed as a pioneering model for public enlightenment in Norway from differing perspectives: economic development, citizenship, the societal function of schooling, as well as the fact that Britain was not entangled in the continental tendency for revolution. The article examines the idealization of Britain in the light of the ideological and philosophical backgrounds of the members of Selskabet for folkeoplysningens Fremme – the Society for the Promotion of Public Enlightenment – in the Norwegian capital.

Keywords: Public Enlightenment, Great Britain, development of school, Hartvig Nissen, development of democracy