London: Harvey & Darton, 1822. First edition. Contemporary quarter roan over marbled boards, with title and price in gilt to spine. All edges speckled blue. Some very gentle shelfwear to extremities, but overall a surprisingly well preserved example of this delicate book, measuring 90 x 140mm. Small bookseller's tickets of Matthew Brooke to front and rear pastedowns; later ownership signature of Katherine de Reeves to front pastedown. Internally clean and unmarked, with some offsetting from the frontis to the title. Collating vii, [1, blank], 180, [4, publisher's catalogue]: complete. Scarce institutionally and in trade, OCLC reports 8 copies in U.S. libraries, with the present being the only one on the market.
Prolific as a writer of juvenile fiction, Elizabeth Sandham enters the genre of the imaginary travelogue to instruct her audience of largely young female readers. Making their way for a holiday in Brighton, companions Caroline and Harriet navigate the dangers of "mean and selfish" women who propose themselves as friends. Though Harriet is tempted toward the finery and sophistication of Miss Dobson and Miss Penton, Caroline's goodness guides her friend toward recognizing and avoiding the "covetous" behaviors their acquaintances encourage. Ultimately, Sandham's Sketches "are intended to convince my readers of the advantages of a good education" and the influence that true and kind friendships can exert on character. In urging women to educate themselves about the world, and in encouraging girls to connect with other intelligent female characters, Sandham also carved out space for educated women's voices in her literary field. Meanwhile her publishers were seeking to establish their own Quaker community as an important part of the book world. The Quakers' classless, anti-hierarchical social structure made it possible as early as the 17th century for Quaker women "to publish journals, testimonies, and spiritual biographies...that gave women first a public voice and then a published identity and tradition" (Nussbaum). William Darton and Joseph Harvey harnessed this, as did their heirs. As Quakers who were "the most important publisher of juvenile literature of the first half of the nineteenth century, they promoted Quaker topics through his books' subjects, educational purpose, and authorship by a stream of women who were also mostly Quakers... social ethics played a key role in [the women's educational publishing] phenomenon of 1790-1828" (Spies-Gans). An important example of intersectional promotion, as members of two communities marginalized for their sex or religion worked to support each other's causes. Near Fine (Item #3853)