First US edition of this fascinating natural history title for young readers and their mothers, by a pioneering woman educational writer.
"Insects are curious little creatures, we meet with them everywhere, they enliven our walks abroad, and entertain us in our houses."
Writer, educator, and philanthropist Ellenor Fenn penned a number of enormously popular books for children in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. THE RATIONAL DAME, first published in London in 1786, went through numerous edition before this first US edition, which featured some interesting localization: David Stoker notes that it was "adapted for a North American audience by the inclusion of animals such as skunks and gopher-rats" (14).
In her introduction, Fenn advises mothers to take advantage of the inherent wonder of freeform learning. "Much knowledge may be acquired whilst little people are enjoying the recreation of a walk," she observes, "queries arise spontaneously from the scene [...] to the child, the world is new." Her passages on insects particularly reinforce this method of education, emphasizing the descriptions of arthropod activities that children are likely to encounter while playing outside.
This first US edition is remarkably scarce; OCLC locates no holdings. A delightful work.
Read more: David Stoker, "Ellenor Fenn as "Mrs. Teachwell" and "Mrs. Lovechild"," Princeton University Library Chronicle.
New-York; Baltimore: Samuel Wood & Sons; Samuel S. Wood & Co., 1821. 12mo. 5.75'' x 3.5''. Contemporary quarter black leather with paper boards, gilt spine lettering. Black-and-white frontispiece with numerous black-and-white illustrations. 108 pages, including index, collated complete. Owner's name to front flyleaf, "Abigail F. Brigham's / Book. / 1823." Binding with edgewear and some soil, cracking to leather of front hinge. Leaves with various toning and scattered soil. Solid overall.
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