London: Printed by W. Darton, , [circa 1810-11]. First edition of what seems to be the author’s first novel for children. Copper engraved frontispiece and woodcut tailpiece. Binding extremities lightly rubbed, spine lightly toned. Slight offsetting from frontispiece, a few minor stains, leaves a bit browned. A very good copy. Original red roan over marbled boards, spine ruled and lettered in gilt. Twelvemo. 76 pp. Item #16579
Mary (Belson) Elliott (1794?-1870) was Darton’s steadiest and most prolific author during the publisher’s time at Holburn Hill, though very little is known about her life otherwise; her early works were published anonymously. The preface to her Innocent Poetry (1809) states that she and her sister “Eliza” had an elderly, infirm mother who they had to care for. It is possible that “Eliza” was Elizabeth Belson, one of whose works was published by William Darton eight years later. The date of her marriage has been placed at 1819, but her husband’s identity has not been successfully established. It was initially thought that her spouse was London printer Edward Elliott; however, this has proven to be untrue when tested against the Census returns. Several of Elliot’s works were reprinted in America and Darton eventually published French translations of some of her work, though she seems to have worked with no other English publisher than Darton and his associates. Precept and Example is a simple tale about three children during the summer holidays with a particular emphasis on their faults and the manner in which they overcome them.
Darton, H490(I). Moon, 273.