London: National Society's Depository, . First edition. Original publisher's cloth binding with gilt to spine and cover. Gentle rubbing to extremities. Mild cocking to spine. Small bookseller's ticket of Hall Book Store to front pastedown. Collates , 146: complete, including 20 pages of ads to rear. A scarce work institutionally and in the trade, it has not appeared at auction, and this is the only copy currently on the market.
Charlotte Yonge begins her compilation of recommended reading with an adage most bibliophiles will understand: "The power of reading leads, in most cases, to the craving for books." What Books to Lend and What to Give provides a wide variety of readers with titles suited to their tastes and needs. Of the 955 titles she annotates for the volume, she includes recommendations in children's literature, fiction, mythology, religion, history, biography, and science, in addition to considering penny books and magazines of substance. Each section begins with a characterization of the reader she has in mind, and each entry includes a brief synopsis of the work and its value. Notably, Yonge assumes that women and girls will make up a significant portion of these readerships. Indeed, she separates out a section on Boys because they are more resistant to the activity unless compelled by a schoolmaster; but no separate section for girls exists because "girls will more often greatly prefer a book." Across the genres, Yonge encourages all readers to take her list as a starting point, and she also encourages readers not to fall into the trap of preferring male characters or authors lest they miss out on important works by or about women. Among these names, she puts forward Elizabeth Gaskell and Julia Kavanagh, Emily Holt, and Mary Lamb as well as more than five of her own books. Such self-promotion was justifiable, as Yonge's literary peers praised her work; her chivalric novel The Heir of Redclyffe was read aloud by members of the Pre-Raphaelites during their time at Oxford, for example, and even Lewis Carroll and Anthony Trollope counted themselves as admirers (Hayter). Invested in the idea that she was a serious scholar in addition to a novelist, Yonge published a biography of Hannah More, a history of Christian names, and A Life of John Coleridge. The present work appears to be part of this larger project, in which Yonge draws upon her own extensive reading and research to share her scholarly ideas about reading and encourage others to participate with them.
A charming and interested annotated bibliography, What Books to Lend is also of great research value with the potential to support projects in fields including but not limited to women in the printing and book trade, the history of reading, the transmission and sharing of literary works, education, gender studies, and bibliography. Near Fine (Item #2668)