May Day; or, Anecdotes of Lydia Lively. Intended to Improve and Amuse the Rising Generation. By the Author of “La Bagatelle.”

London: Printed, by Assignment of John Marshall, for Darton, Harvey, and Darton, 1816. Fourth edition. Three previous editions were published under the John Marshall imprint (in 1787, 1793, and 1797). The present edition is the first under the Darton, Harvey, and Darton imprint. All previous editions are scarce. With a copper-engraved frontispiece. Some rubbing to extremities and some foxing and dampstaining throughout. Some light pencil markings on a few pages and three signatures on front pastedown, one dated 1858. Overall a very good, tight copy of an uncommon book. Original paper-covered boards with green roan spine lettered in gilt. Twelvemo. 138 pp., [6] pp. publish (Item ID: 16717)


The titular Lydia Lively is an anxious, easily distracted young girl who strives to be patient, optimistic, and quiet after her mother promises to write a log of Lydia’s misbehavior each night and read it aloud to the entire family the following day (pp. 12-13). Lydia loves to read books like La Bagatelle and History of Little Ann and Little James (Darton, Harvey, and Darton in 1816), so she is particularly afraid of hearing unflattering stories about herself. By the end of May Day, though, Lydia has become so good and so diligent about her French studies that her mother stops keeping the log. In the conclusion of the story, the author writes that Lydia “escaped falling into bad habits, which, though very easily checked at first, become, after they are long indulged, very difficult to break. I very affectionately recommend this practice to any young persons who desire in earnest to be good,” (p. 138).

OCLC lists nine copies in the United States, three in England, and one in Ireland. The Dartons, G626.

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