London: Blackie & Son, 1862. First edition. Original publisher's cloth bindings embossed in blind and stamped with gilt to spines. Yellow endpapers. Spines uniformly sunned, with a bit of rolling to volume I, else tight and pleasing. Armorial bookplate of the late 19th century collector Henry Birkbeck to front pastedown of each; contemporary ownership monogram dated 1862 to front endpaper of volume II. Light scattered foxing to preliminaries and terminal leaves; volume I entirely uncut and both volumes clean and unmarked. Collating iv, [1, blank], 408, 16; [6, 408, 16: complete, including half titles and publishers catalogues to both. OCLC reports a surprising number of libraries with only one of the two volumes; the present is the only copy on the market.
"The Puritan times embrace the most interesting and instructive period in the annals of English history. Prolific in characters distinguished by great intellectual powers, combined with apostolic simplicity and piety...and detailing struggles for civic and religious liberty." Though the period, as described by the Rev. James Anderson, was a crucial one, often the contributions of women remain overlooked. To that end, he submits "this series of female biographies, embracing the lives of women belonging to or connected with the Puritan party." Anderson's nod to women in these volumes is part of a larger project -- in fact, he published Ladies of the Reformation as well as Ladies of the Covenant before the present work. In working to uncover women's contributions and familiarize readers with the central role of women in religious history, Anderson acknowledges that women as consumers had become a driving force in the book market. During this period, a rash of "female biographies" had begun to appear; these, mostly, emphasizing the roles of women in developing the novel genre, or as political leaders. To valorize them within the religious sphere was a notably progressive move. A total of 26 women appear here, each with a chapter dedicated to her background and contributions. Multiple of the included women have connections to key male figures such as Oliver Cromwell and John Bunyan -- reminding readers of the role women play in shaping their families' educations and spirituality. The absence of women who have become well known in our own times -- including those unmarried, such as Hannah More-- give us the opportunity to examine how or why women rise to historical prominence in different times. (Item #4245)