YOUR BOOK-STACK, on the counter . . .
Sinclair, Catherine. Holiday house: A series of tales. Dedicated to Lady Diana Boyle. Edinburgh: William Whyte & Co., 1849. 16mo (16.4 cm, 6.5"). Col. frontis., xii, 346 pp. $160.00
Tremendously popular in its day, this children's book is often cited as one of the first pieces of juvenile literature to realistically depict youthful shenanigans — the preface describes our protagonists as "noisy, frolicsome, mischievous children . . . like wild horses on the prairies, rather than like well-broken hacks on the road" (p. vii).
Modern readers may well find themselves taken aback by the harshness of the punishments doled out by a stern governess to Harry and Laura for such unforgivable (and amusingly depicted!) sins as inviting friends over to tea, tearing their clothes, or breaking a plate — although occasionally the siblings' boisterousness leads to genuine crises like a fire in the nursery. In the end, while neither the severity of the governess nor the kindness of their grandmother and uncle serves to dampen the children's spirits, the loss of their beloved older brother transforms them from "merry, thoughtless, young creatures" to mourners convinced of the frailty of earthly joy and the necessity of religion (p. 345).
Sinclair was Scottish-born and this is an early Scottish edition (stated fifth thousand) of this work, following the London first of 1826 and the Edinburgh first of 1839. The frontispiece here features two engraved vignettes, done by Lizars Lithography of Edinburgh, both scenes with => early hand-coloring.
Binding: 19th-century half green calf, sides covered with veined and rippled marbled paper in shades of blue-green, cream, and gold, spine with gilt-stamped red leather title-label, gilt-dotted raised bands, and gilt-stamped floral compartment decorations. Marbled endpapers matching binding, with all page edges likewise marbled.
Provenance: Title-page with early inked inscription of Marian Rogers, Beawell Rectory; most recently in the children's book collection of Albert A. Howard, small booklabel ("AHA") at rear.
Opie A 1081. For 1844 ed., see Osborne Collection, p. 304. Bound as above; spine sunned evenly to olive, spine label with small chip, joints and edges rubbed. Pages showing minor to moderate spotting and staining. => A landmark of children's literature, in a surprisingly formal, adult binding. (41232) Please RESHELVE This.
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