Conversations on Botany. With plates.
[Fitton, Elizabeth, and Sarah Mary.]

London: Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1820. Third edition, enlarged; it features an additional description and plate of a common species of grass, neither of which is included in the first or second editions. The first edition was published in 1817. Twenty two engraved hand-colored plates by George Sowerby, all but one dated 1817 (plate number two is a double plate and two different plates are numbered "5"); several black-and-white illustrations. Binding extremities lightly worn with some minor soiling and light fading to spine. Front joint starting to crack at the head of spine, but sound. Light foxing and slight toning in addition to some light offsetting to text and plates. Small stain at gutter margin of p. 192 . Contemporary ink signature on front flyleaf and a later signature (dated 1885) on the half-title. A very good, bright copy. Original blue cloth with gilt-ruled and gilt-lettered spine. Edges sprinkled red. Twelvemo. xxii, 263 pp. (Item ID: 16215)


Sarah Mary Fitton (1796–1874) was likely born in Dublin. With her sister Elizabeth (1817–1834), she wrote the popular Conversations on Botany for the series of elementary science works published by Longmans and otherwise dominated by Jane Marcet's titles. It went through nine editions between 1817 and 1840. It features eighteen dialogues between a mother and her boy pupil conveying the principles of the Linnaean system of classification and information about useful plants. Though it was first issued anonymously, later editions indicate that Sarah wrote most of the text, assisted by Elizabeth. It is wrongly attributed to Maria Elizabeth Jacson or Mrs. Marcet, at times. In 1865, Eugène Coemans, the Belgian botanist, named a genus of perennial flowering shrubs Fittonia in honor of the two sisters. (Oxford DNB).

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