London: Printed for E. Newbery...Darton and Harvey...and Vernor and Hood, 1798. Second edition. The first was published in 1794. Some copies of this edition contain hand-colored plates. With 11 numbered black-and-white copper plates (one fold-out) and a fold-out table listing botanical classes according to Linnaean taxonomy. Spine sunned. Some soiling to boards and rubbing to extremities. Small numerical label at foot of spine. Edges untrimmed. Front hinge cracking. Nineteenth century bookplate on front pastedown and contemporary ink signature on half-title. Some foxing to F gathering but otherwise very clean. A very good, fresh, and wide-margined copy of this important botany textbook. Original gray-blue paper boards with light brown cloth spine. Twelvemo. 200 pp. Item #16897
The lessons in An Introduction to Botany are staged as conversations between two sisters, Felicia and Constance. In the preface to the present work, the author explains that she wrote the present work to introduce young women to botany, since many young women at the time were not permitted to study Latin and were thus unable to read earlier botany texts.
Priscilla Wakefield (née Bell, 1751-1832) was the author of introductory science texts on botany and entomology, moral fiction for children, and travel literature. Along with Jane Marcet and Maria Edgeworth, Wakefield was a pioneer of educational writing for young women, and she valued a well-rounded education that included topics from politics and trade to natural history to decorative art. Her most popular works were her series of travel books for children, beginning with The Juvenile Travellers (1801), which reached nineteen editions by 1850. She was one of Darton and Harvey’s major authors; eleven of her books were published by them (Dartons, p. 279). As a philanthropist, Wakefield’s established a pension fund and a savings bank for the poor and provided supplies and funding to midwives. The Dartons, G996 (2).