London: J. Carpenter, 1807. First edition. Two volumes bound in one. Quarter calf over marbled boards with red morocco spine label. Front hinge cracked but holding; gentle rubbing to spine and boards. Booklplate of William Monson, either the House of Lords peer (1760-1807) or the 1st Viscount Oxenbridge (1829-1898) to front pastedown. Contemporary ownership inscription, possibly Monson, to front flyleaf: "Mrs. Sterndale was the intimate friend of Mrs. Roberts, the wife of my first worthy schoolmaster and many an evening have these tales been read out in the Mitcham parlour. Passages which now appear to me strained then were considered beautiful...I can well remember how wrapt we were in the description at 219r. If I remember rightly the verses in Vol II p80 were written by Mrs. Roberts." Collates [xvi], 239, ; [ii], 238: lacking the half titles, else complete. A pleasing copy of with a rare association, Sterndale's work on women is held by 5 US institutions according to OCLC, with the present being the only one on the market.
A friend to poet Anna Seward, Mary Sterndale moved through a local community of writers and schoolmasters in her early womanhood. Under the patronage of the famed Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, she launched her writing career in 1807 with The Panorama of Youth being her first published book. A success which would soon be reprinted in the US, the book's dedication notes the author's sadness that the the Duchess did not live to see its release. Indeed, the Duchess of Devonshire was a powerful supporter of politicians, scholars, and artists; her favor defined trends and made careers. Notably, the Duchess was not the only woman deserving of Sterndale's appreciation: the author acknowledges "her temerity in presuming to follow the steps of [Bluestocking Anna Laetitia] Barbauld" in becoming an author. Sterndale's two volume text, according to her preface, intends to merge literature with instruction, focusing particularly on stories about young women. "As the young are ever eager for novelty, the following Tales may be acceptable to them." Volume II most especially focuses on the experiences of girls and women, with like The Sisters and Moorland Mary focusing on themes of sisterhood, friendship, women's roles as moral centers of the family, and the good that comes when women practice compassion and generosity towards each other. (Item #2839)