Original Double Acrostics: Amusing and Instructive
London: George Routledge & Sons, 1866.
London: George Routledge & Sons, 1866. First edition. Original red publisher's cloth binding with bright gilt to spine and front board. Gentle wear to boards and bumps to corners; rear hinge starting but holding well. Original yellow endpapers, with early ownership signature of Bernard Stampe in pencil to front endpaper, alongside various early dealers' notations. Internally clean and complete, collating [ii], 183, , [4, catalogue]. The only copy on the market of this charming educational book, OCLC locates 11 copies at institutions worldwide.
Resisting the philosophy of 'all work and no play,' Anne Bowman provides young readers with a delightful way of gaining new knowledge and developing memory. "We have ventured to introduce into our 'Double Acrostics' many allusions to history, geography, or general literature as a means of testing the memory and judgement of our young readers; thus, while endeavoring to make our book instructive, offering to their ingenuity a pastime which fashion sanctions and the most severe discipline cannot condemn." In this sense, the increasingly challenging acrostics in Bowman's book provide an important glimpse into the shifting field of education in the Victorian period -- one focused less on the student as a subject of the realm and more on the student as an individual, and which allowed women an increasingly public place in the molding of young minds. "The new social and economic changes called upon the schools to broaden their aims and curricula. Schools were expected not only to promote literacy, mental discipline, and good moral character, but also to help children prepare for citizenship, and for individual development and success. Although teaching methods remained oriented towards textbook memorizing...a more sympathetic attitude towards children began to appear" (Britannica). Bowman is right, then, to say in her preface that parents would encourage works like hers, which enable "study and labour to be guilded with 'harmless' recreation." Near Fine (Item #2838)