London: Printed for the Author by T. Bayley, 1811. First edition. Contemporary calf with morocco spine label. Gentle rubbing to extremities. Top of front hinge cracked but holding. Offsetting to preliminaries and light scattered foxing throughout. Contemporary ownership inscription to the front endpaper: "The gift of Miss Marriott to Eliza La Coste." The Marriotts of Old Broad Street are, in fact, among the subscribers listed in the book; while Mr. Marriott purchased one copy, his wife purchased four, the eldest Miss Marriott (presumably the gift-giver) purchased two, and the younger Miss E. Marriott purchased one. Measuring 95 x 152mm and collating xii, 149, [1, blank]: complete. A rarity calling out for research, the present work had 241 subscribers (more than half being women) and yet only one institutionally held copy at the British Library is reported on OCLC.
"Picture if you will, the woman poet of the Romantic era, toiling away in obscurity, fearful of putting her name before the public -- of being seen and recognized as a writer" (Feldman). This is a popularly held conception of women writers, but as recent research makes clear, the majority of women authors either did publish under their own names, or their identities have been uncovered in works like Jackson's Romantic Poetry by Women. "The identity of very few Romantic-era women authors of poetry volumes remain unknown today. Of the more than two thousand volumes of published poetry listed by J. R. de J. Jackson in his splendid bibliography, only five appear under the heading 'Anonymous' and only sixty one under the heading 'A Lady'" (Feldman). Notably, the present work is one of these rarities, a standing example of the mystery surrounding some Romantic women authors. Unknown by name to scholars, she was likely known to her subscribers. She may have been an aristocratic or wealthy woman interested in sharing writing with social circle while avoiding the taint of commercialism that being a published author brought. Yet we know that she wrote other books -- the titles appear as part of her byline. What becomes clear from the volume itself is that she successfully appealed to women (over half of her subscribers are female) and that she was invested in writing about women's lives and experiences. Rose-Cecilia, The Grumbling Girl, and Courtney to Louisa tackle female friendships, motherhood, and personal losses. She also shows interest in the lives and plights of women of color, exploring indigenous experience in Cascarilla, Or the Indian Heroine as well as the experience of Zelma's loss, the capture of her husband by a slave ship, in The African Fugitives. (Item #2861)