A Literal Translation of the Saxon Chronicle.
[ Gurney, Anna].

[ Norwich: ] Printed by Stevenson, Matchett, and Stevenson; For John and Arthur Arch, Cornhill, and London, 1819. First edition. Calf rubbed at corners and extremities. Rebacked with twentieth century calf spine with red morocco label. Marbled edges. Some light foxing but pages are very clean throughout. With a late twentieth century bookplate on front pastedown of medievalist and book collector Brian S. Donaghey. A good, bright copy. Early armorial calf ruled in blind with crosshatch-patterned panel and stamped with crest of a lion rampant with an ax, possibly of the Scottish McDowall clan. Twelvemo. 324, [95] pp. (Item ID: 16753)


Linguist, educator, and medieval historian Anna Gurney (1795–1857) published her first book, A Literal Translation of the Saxon Chronicle, at the age of twenty-three and was met with critical praise for the accuracy and clarity of her translation. Though she is now remembered mostly for her translations of Old English and Old Norse texts, she was also an abolitionist and a scholar of several African languages including Hausa and Yoruba, the latter of which she studied with Samuel Ajayi Crowther (c. 1809–1891). Gurney’s additional pursuits included participating in maritime rescue missions on the Norfolk coast and co-founding the Belfry School, which still operates as an elementary school in its original building in Overstrand, England.

Volume two of the 1830 book The British Herald, or Cabinet of Armorial Bearings by Thomas Robson describes numerous variants of the Scottish McDowall clan arms as being comprised of a crown and a lion rampant holding an ax (or sword), which matches the design on the armorial binding of the present book

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