London: A. J. Valpy, Red Lion Court, 1822. First edition. Contemporary half calf over marbled boards, with morocco labels and gilt to spines. Some rubbing and edgewear to boards; small cracks to front hinge of volume I and rear hinge of volume II but both holding firmly. Marbled endpapers. Contemporary ownership inscription on verso of front endpaper in volume I: "Jeanette Hamilton received this book of Mr. Wheems, the English Ambassador at Copenhagen." Additional ownership signature of Esther Henckel on front endpaper of volume II. Collating xi, [1, blank], 255, [1, blank]; , 248: lacking the half title in volume I, else complete. Some light scatered foxing to preliminaries of both volumes, but overall a clean, neat, tight set. The only copy currently on the market, Charlotte Anley's scarce didactic novel is held by only 12 institutions accordng to OCLC.
A Quaker, and a protege of English prison reformer Elizabeth Frye, Charlotte Anley sought to use her writing to encourage kindness and humility among her readers. While a contemporary review characterized Influence as "a covert vehicle for the conveyance of certain theological opinions and rules of life," Anley was indeed quite transparent about her goal of using an imaginative tale to teach Christian lessons (New Monthly Magazine & Literary Journal). "If then a moral tale can be made a vehicle of religious influence, as well as amusement, are to exclude the benefits which it may produce?" she asks of her critics in the Preface. Selecting a genre noted at the time for frivolity and sensation, Anley's novel she hopes will exist as part of a different class of novels that encourage upright behaviour rather than romance or scandal. After all, she reasons, young people (and young women especially) are going to find ways of reading novels, so why not supply them with something wholesome: "Many parents exclaim against novel reading, and would very properly exclude all romances from the libraries of their children; yet there is scarcely a young woman who at eighteen is not conversant with every novel of the last two or three years' standing." A travel and coming of age tale focused on the young female protagonist Ellen, Influence was released before Anley herself entered a new phase in life, when she would be "commissioned by Elizabeth Fry to investigate the condition of women prisoners in Australia...[using] her connections to gain access to female prisoners in Sydney and the notorious Female Factory in Parramatta" (Richardson). Her 1841 report "was influential in raising awareness of the treatment of female convicts and influencing policy. In particular Anley supported proposals for the building of new female penitentiaries to act as institutions to reform rather than to punish" (Richardson). Signs of these ideas already exist as early as Influence, as much of Anely's novel does not condemn novels or novel readers, but rather proposes taking the form and using it for more educational means.
Gifted to Jeanette Margrete Steenbock Hamilton by the Ambassador to Denmark Sir Henry Watkin Williams Wynn, a Grenville, who after a tumultuous youth '"served with great tact and dignity in Copenhagen" (History of Parliament). (Item #2710)