London: H.G. Collins, 1850. First edition. Original publisher's cloth binding embossed in gilt and blind, measuring 165 x 105mm. Yellow endpapers. A Near Fine copy with some splitting near crown of spine and cloth renewed at foot of spine. Hinges starting but sound. Previous ownership stamps of J. P. Barrett to front pastedown, front endpaper, and title header, else unmarked. Complete including frontis: xviii, [1, blank], 19-144. Scarce institutionally and in trade, OCLC locates 5 physical copies in libraries, with this as the only example on the market.
Charlotte Eliza Sargeant, like her more prolific sister Anne Maria Sargeant, focused her writing on educational and juvenile literature. Seemingly her first publication, A Book for Mothers presents itself as a conservative work despite its progressive implications. "The object of the writer, in collecting and preparing the following sketches, had been to prove the influence of Parents -- and mothers more especially -- have in forming the characters of their children...The writer has addressed herself to mothers thinking the examples brought forward may not only act as incentives to duty, but serve as encouragement to perseverance even under difficulty...their labour will 'not be in vain.'" Each chapter focuses on a woman whose intelligence, talent, and drive made their sons' accomplishments possible -- in a world that devalued the women and confined their own achievements. Thus we learn the histories and the real names of these women who wielded their influence. They are not simply Mrs. John Henry or Mrs. Samuel Wesley, for example; they are complex people with their own names and pasts, and thus their individual names beyond marriage or motherhood (in these cases Magdalen Rochdale and Susannah Annesley). In openly asserting the importance of women who engage in traditional marriage and motherhood, she provides justification for women to gain space for education and the cultivation of their interests. "Woman is an intelligent and moral agent, and has a high mission to perform." (Item #4877)