London: Printed for John Harris [by S. and R. Bentley, 1828]. First edition, a work of rudimentary theology, astronomy, natural history, and geography for youth, supposedly published from the papers of a deceased “friend,” with a few of Fletcher’s own “emendations” and “improvements.”. Engraved frontispiece, dated 1828. Binding extremities slightly rubbed, corners worn. Light foxing, minor offsetting from frontispiece. A very good, clean copy. Contemporary quarter maroon sheep over marbled boards, gilt spine. Twelvemo. vii, [1, blank], 232 pp. Item #17350
With the exception of him being the Vicar of Stone, we were unable to learn anything about William Fletcher from the resources available to us. In his “Introduction,” Fletcher writes, “Inspecting a few months back the literary relics of a departed friend, I stumbled upon a bundle of papers, containing some account of his early life, and the course of instruction he at that time pursued…Trusting it may promote the best interests of those little ones for whom it is intended, by leading them to a more intimate knowledge of their kind and beneficent Creator, through a display of the varied and wonderful manifestations of His power and goodness…” (pp. v-vii). Fletcher’s “friend” then relates his life story, exploring the work’s subjects through his youthful relationship with his father.
John Harris (1756-1846) joined John Newbery’s publishing firm, which he eventually purchased from Elizabeth Newbery in the early nineteenth-century. He published books in innovative and popular styles is famous for publisher the first edition of The Comic Adventures of Old Mother Hubbard and her Dog (1805), which sold more than 10,000 copies in a few months’ time.
OCLC lists nine copies, six in North America.