London: J. Carpenter, 1807. First edition. Contemporary boards rebacked with modern cloth and spine labels. Rubbing to extremities and spotting to boards. Endpapers replaced. Collates [xvi], 239, ; [ii], 238: lacking the half title for volume I, else complete. Some pages trimmed short. Signatures B and C in volume I loose. Wear to edges of text blocks; scattered foxing throughout. Manuscript poetry in a contemporary woman's hand tipped into the front and rear of volume II. No other signs of ownership. A unique copy with research possibility on a female owner's engagement with her text, 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.
The present copy has the additional research value of the tipped in poetry manuscripts, in which a female owner copies out lyric poetry from contemporary magazines. At the front, she fully copies out the sonnet Pity, from the Lady's Magazine (1792, page 437): "Why should the heart unknown to grief or care Feel the stern anguish of another's woe?" This is followed at the rear by a portion of Elegiac Sonnet from The Lady's Monthly Museum (1804, page 208): "Thus life's gay visions--gloomy death destroys..." She then concludes with what appears to be an original poem: "Death is the cause of all my heartfelt grief, The grave contains all I on earth hold dear; The wonder not that nought can give relief. No soothing friend, nor yet the silent tear." The only sign she leaves is a tiny set of initials in the lower corner of the first page: E. J. (Item #2844)