London: Grant and Griffith, 1855. First edition of this collection of didactic stories for children. With a frontispiece and three other engraved plates. Binding is bright and attractive. Pale yellow endpapers. Minor foxing. A very good copy of the first book written collaboratively by sisters Mary and Elizabeth Kirby. Original blindstamped blue cloth titled in gilt. Octao. [vi], 82, 8 pp. Item #17185
Elizabeth Kirby (1823 – 1873) and Mary Kirby (later Gregg, 1817 – 1893) were children’s book authors and science writers. Mary’s most important work was the Flora of Leicestershire (1848), which she wrote with naturalist Andrew Bloxam. The first edition, which was published with every other page left blank, asked readers to fill in additional botanical information. The 1850 edition compiled these contributions for a total of over nine hundred species. Together, the sisters published popular science texts on botany, entomology, marine biology, and more over the course of twenty-five years. The Kirbys also wrote other didactic works for children, including Julia Maitland; or, Pride Goes Before a Fall (1857), which emphasized the value of young women’s education.
Hablot Knight Browne (1815-1882), who published under the pen name “Phiz,” was best known for the ten books he illustrated for Charles Dickens, including David Copperfield and Pickwick.