London: Printed and Published by Emily Faithfull and Co., Victoria Press, (for the employment of Women)... 1861. First edition of the first book printed at the Victoria Press, which was founded by Emily Faithfull (1835 - 1895) in 1860. Faithfull’s preface details her motivations in establishing the Victoria Press, the process of training women as compositors, and the contributions of women to the printing of the present work. Aside from acting as compositors, Faithfull notes that a woman designed the initial letters for the work, and that they were engraved by women, some of whom were pupils at the Royal Female School of Art (p. vii). With initial letters (designed and engraved by women) throughout. Dedicated to Queen Victoria (the present work earned Emily Faithfull her position as the official printer and publisher to the Queen). Some rubbing to extremities. Dark red coated endpapers. Ink gift signature, dated 1861, to front flyleaf (a man gifting the book to his mother for her birthday). Light occasional foxing. A very good copy of an anthology produced by an important woman publisher to promote the employment of women in printing. Original beveled-edge blue cloth with boards and spine elaborately decorated in gilt. Gilt on upper board is dulled. All edges gilt. Large octavo. x, 349 pp. Item #16996
Faithfull also cites Bessie Rayner Parkes Belloc (1829 – 1925) as the inspiration for opening the press: Belloc “was so convinced of the opening afforded by the printing trade, and that nothing but sufficient capital and a fair trial were required for success, that she purchased a small press, in order to make herself practically acquainted with the art of printing, and capable of assisting in the direction of any effort that might be made for training female compositors,” (pp. vi-vii). Faithfull worked at the press for several weeks, which convinced her that “any intelligent industrious girl, under a proper apprenticeship, could earn her living as a compositor,” (p. vii). Upon establishing the Victoria Press, she provided training for women interested in printing and employed mostly women as typesetters and proofreaders.
With previously unpublished contributions by over fifty writers, including Tennyson, Harriet Martineau, Thackeray, Isa Craig, Anthony Trollope, Bessie Parkes Belloc, and Adelaide Procter. Emily Faithfull was Queen Victoria’s official printer, a founding member of the Society for Promoting the Employment of Women, and a popular novelist and memoirist. Other significant
Victoria Press publications include Te Deum Laudamus (1868), illuminated by Faithfull’s sister Esther Faithfull Fleet (1823 - 1908); and A Welcome, a collection of poetry edited by Isa Craig that included the first appearances of poems by the Rosettis, Harriet Martineau, Trollope, and more. Faithfull also published the periodical Victoria Magazine, which ran from 1863 to 1880 and often featured her own writing on the importance of employment opportunities for women.