The Royal Captives: A Fragment from Secret History. Copied from an old manuscript. Ann Yearsley.
The Royal Captives: A Fragment from Secret History. Copied from an old manuscript.
The Royal Captives: A Fragment from Secret History. Copied from an old manuscript.

The Royal Captives: A Fragment from Secret History. Copied from an old manuscript.

Dublin: Printed by J. Stockdale, 1795. First Dublin edition, first published in London earlier in the same year. All editions of this book are uncommon. OCLC records nine copies of the present edition (only five in the United States). This is the author’s only novel. Separate title-pages for each volume. With half-title in volume one (not called for in volume two). Two patches of calf on front cover rubbed. Contemporary bookplate of an Alexander Warren to front pastedown. Remarkably clean and bright internally. A very good, very fresh copy. Contemporary tree calf with red morocco spine label and gilt seal stamped on spine. Two volumes in one, twelvemo. 276 pp. Item #17140

Ann Yearsley, née Cromartie (bap. 1753 – d. 1806) was a poet, playwright, and friend of Hannah More, Elizabeth Montagu, and other prominent poets and thinkers of the day. When Yearsley and her family were living in poverty, More organized, by subscription among her literary and wealthy friends, the publication of a volume of Yearsley’s poems. Poems, on Several Occasions was published in 1785 with a preface addressed to Elizabeth Montagu. The list of over a thousand subscribers included Fanny Burney, Henry Dundas, Soame Jenyns, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Anna Seward, Lady (Eglantine) Wallace, Helen Maria Williams, and Horace Walpole. Two more volumes of the book were published under More’s supervision. After falling out with More in 1786, Yearsley involved herself with members of the aristocracy in Bristol and the Irish peerage, and began writing in opposition to the Bristol slave trade. She wrote Earl Goodwin: an Historical Play, which was produced in Bristol and Bath in 1789 and printed in 1791, and Stanzas of Woe (1790), poetry on topics of local interests in Bristol. She published more poetry in Bristol newspapers and ran a circulating library beginning in 1793.

In Reminiscences of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey (1847), J. Cottle opines that Yearsley was a formidable thinker, referring to her alongside Coleridge, Southey, and Humphry Davy as one of the “busy, the aspiring, and the intellectual spirits' who inhabited Bristol during the 1790s” (Cottle, xiii; quoted in Oxford DNB). Raven and Forster, 1795:50; CBEL II, 698.

Price: $950.00

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