London: Grant Richards, [1902[. First edition. With 24 color-printed engraved plates included in pagination. Toning to endpapers. Lacking rear free endpaper. A very good, clean, and bright copy of an uncommon work. Original color pictorial boards with cloth spine. A bit of light rubbing to extremities. Oblong quarto. 52 pp. Item #16821
Wonderful England! is a facetious and seemingly satirical exultation of British manners and culture in the Edwardian era, told in verse paired with illustrations. The verse pokes fun at the lively caricatures of model British citizens and officials: for example, a drawing of an older man in a British naval uniform eats with a spoon from jars labeled “treacle” and “golden syrup” accompanies text that reads “The first Sea-Lord performs / A most difficult feat / It is said that he tastes / All the jam for our fleet!” (p. 34).
Mary Frances Ames (née Miller, 1853 - 1929) was the author and illustrator of about a dozen children’s books, four of which she created in collaboration with her husband, the railroad engineer Ernest Fitzroy Ames. While some of her books, like the present work and The Tremendous Twins, or How the Boers Were Beaten (1900), parody British inefficiency and arrogance, others are humorous but decidedly jingoistic celebrations of British imperial might. One of Ames’ solo publications was her book An ABC for Baby Patriots (1899), another children’s book that pairs verse celebrating colonialism with Ames’ typical cartoonish illustrations. One of its verses reads: “C is for Colonies. / Rightly we boast, / That of all the great nations / Great Britain has the most.” See Elleke Boehmer, Empire Writing (Oxford University Press, 1998).