London: Hurst & Blackett, 1858. First edition. Uncommon first issue, with the dated title page and no frontis (changed later the same year in the more common second issue). Original purple publisher's cloth binding stamped in gilt on spine. Gentle bumps to corners and rubbing to front board, else a pleasing and square copy. Yellow endpapers. Front hinge a bit tender. Previous owner's signature from the date of publication to the front pastedown; bookseller's stamp to rear pastedown. Internally neat and clean, with mild foxing confined to the preliminaries. Collates v, , 348, , including the small publisher's catalogue at the rear. The only first edition copy on the market, Craik's treatise on women's independence is also quite scarce, with OCLC listing only 4 hard-copies at institutions.
The daughter of a schoolmistress, Dinah Maria Mulock was fortunate to be educated in her childhood. "Although she had the training to become a governess, she turned to writing as a profession. Her earliest work was in genres that could be quickly written and sold...consolidating Dinah Mulock's reputation as a popular writer who delineated complex emotional states with unusual power and understanding...In A Woman's Thoughts About Women, Dinah Mulock provided emotional support and confident advice for single women like herself. Strongly criticizing learned helplessness, she promoted self-sufficiency and cross-class sympathy. Yet she also acknowledged the pain and loneliness of single women's lives" (ODNB). In her early life, she had experienced this solitude first-hand, having lost her brothers and feeling ostracized by her local community for being a self-supporting working woman. Upon her marriage to George Craik in 1865 at the age of 40, she continued her career and never appears to have stopped writing. Her goal across her work of providing women with sympathetic guidance, is beautifully encapsulated in the preface to the present work: "In this book, many women will find simply the expression of what they have themselves, consciously or unconsciously, oftentimes thought or felt." Her chapters outline the importance of a skill and profession for single women; the types of professions and handicrafts readily available to working women; and the advice to avoid gossip and form strong female friendships. A progressive advice manual targeted to a notoriously underserved group of women. Near Fine (Item #3240)