London: T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1809. Second edition. Two volumes (measuring 127 x 228 mm). Collating xi, [1, blank], 413, [1, blank] pages; 426 pages: complete with full titles in both volumes. Quarter calf over marbled boards with gilt to spines. Marbled edges. Some gentle rubbing to boards and shelfwear to extremities. Textblocks tight with only the faintest foxing to preliminaries, else internally clean and neat. With ownership signature of J. Bowdler on front endpaper of both volumes. Inscribed by the author on the front endpaper of Volume I: "From the Author." More's signature is exceedingly rare. No copy of this book signed appears in the modern auction record and none are reported signed at institutions according to OCLC.
The first and only novel by the British education activist and noted Bluestocking writer, Coeleb's in Search of a Wife follows the titular protagonist across English cities and countryside as he tries to find a mate. A satire on female stereotypes -- both men's assumptions about them as well as some women's adherence to them -- the book is a series of character sketches on the women and families Coeleb encounters. Highly popular at its release in 1808, this second edition followed in 1809; within the same year, another eleven editions came out. The J. Bowdler to whom More gifted the volumes was John Bowdler, whose family played an important role in More's personal and literary life. While John's older sister Jane had been a poet in her own right, his brother Thomas was responsible for the expurgated Family Shakespeare (from which the term "Bowdlerisation" was derived). Their younger sister Harriet, meanwhile, was a close friend of More's and a fellow Bluestocking. More's inscription and gift of her novel, then, makes a statement about her relationship to a family that interacted with and helped shape her own beliefs. More's relationship with the family is documented in her correspondence.
The Life of Hannah More, 275-277. Near Fine (Item #2485)