London: Griffith and Farran, 1857. First edition. Publisher’s ticket and contemporary pencil ownership signature (Mary Luttrell) to front pastedown. One plate loose, laid in at original position. A very good, bright copy of an uncommon didactic novels for young women. Original blue cloth stamped in gilt. Binding is very clean and attractive. Pale yellow endpapers. With four hand-colored plates by John Absolon and N. Jackson Jr. 98, 16 [publisher’s catalogue] pp. Item #17203
This didactic novel about the value of education for young women tells the story of Julia, a spoiled heiress whose delusions of grandeur lead her away from her studies. After her aunt places her with a family to work as a governess, an experience Julia hates, she returns home and focuses on her education. She begins to help her friend Matilda in teaching children and imbuing them with a respect for education and moderation. 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 and her sister. 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.
OCLC records five copies in the UK (BL, National Library of Scotland, Cambridge, V&A, University of Newcastle) and three in North America (U Toronto, Memorial University of Newfoundland, U Florida).