London: Thomas Worrall, 1729. First edition in English. Contemporary full red morocco embossed in gilt in the cottage roof style and sympathetically rebacked and recornered. All edges gilt. Marbled endpapers. Contemporary ownership signature of Elizabeth Smithson to front endpaper. Measuring 160 x 90mm and collating xii, 156: complete. A scarce book, showing a mother's equal concern for the education and happiness of her children regardless of gender, ESTC locates only 11 copies (5 of these in the U.S.). It is currently the only copy on the market.
The Marchioness de Lambert, hailed by contemporaries as "famous for the purity of her morals and the sublimity of her intellect," was an influential presence in the saloniere culture of her time (Belfast Monthly Magazine 6:33). For all of France's calls for "educational reform" bringing "equal or improved access to education for girls," concrete change was slow to set in; and because "women who pursued higher education did so in solitude or without institutional support or societal approval...the salon became an informal university for women -- a place where they could exchange ideas, avail themselves of the best minds of their time, read their own works and hear the works of others" (Bodek). Herself the founder and host of an elite salon, the Marchioness de Lambert gained public influence few women of the time could wield.
The Marchioness' most popular work was Advice from a Mother to her Son and Daughter. Through "twin sets of instructions to her son and daughter, she could analyze the virtues to be cultivated by each gender in the aristocracy. Men pursue glory while women focus on humility...but Lambert defends the dignity of women against these misogynist stereotypes advanced by opponents of gender equality" (Encyclopedia of Philosophy). Addressing her work to her children, she speaks not only to them about their value as individuals but also to the wider world about the systemic problems that occur when you assume difference based on sex. Translated into English, Advice became accessible to elite and middle class English readers -- and it provided support to Bluestockings like Hannah More and Hester Chapone who lobbied for similar reforms. Though the French salon model emphasized pleasure and the Bluestocking model privileged work, the translation reminds us of the common ground women reformers found despite being parted by the Channel.
ESTC T142619. (Item #4171)