The Renowned History of Primrose Prettyface, who by her Sweetness of Temper, & Love of Learning, was raised from being the Daughter of a poor Cottager, to great Riches, and the Dignity of Lady of the Manor. Set forth for the Benefit & Imitation of those pretty little Boys & Girls, Who by learning their Books, & obliging Mankind, Would to Beauty of Body, and Beauty of Mind. London, J. Marshall, 1788?
24mo, (120 x 75 mm), pp. 88,  advertisements, including the engraved title-page and engraved frontispiece, with 31 woodcut illustrations in the text, final leaf pasted down, in contemporary Dutch floral boards, rebacked.
A scarce rags-to-riches story in the manner of Little Goody Two-Shoes, in which the heroine rises from working class to the aristocracy by virtue both of her moral uprightness and of her scholarship. It is particularly interesting theme, that social mobility should be open to a young lady through attentiveness to her education, but it was not a theme that was universally approved. Mrs Trimmer clearly saw this little children’s book as dangerously revolutionary in content: ‘It is certainly very wrong to teach girls of the lower order to aspire to marriages with persons in stations so far superior to their own, or to put into the heads of young gentlemen, at an early age, an idea, that when they grow up they may, without impropriety, marry servant-maids’ (in Guardian of Education, volume I, see Osborne I, p. 260).
During the narrative of Primrose’s education and elevation, her marriage to a baronet and the happy ever after ending (’Sir William and his beauteous bride now live as an example to the great, the comfort of the poor, and the admiration of all’), there are numerous digressions and poems, some of which, such as ‘Eudoxus and Leontine’, reinforce the message of social mobility and the importance of study and education. The poems, which are unattributed, include Richard Jago’s ‘Elegy on a Black-Bird shot on Valentine’s Day’ and Isaac Watts’ ‘Love between Brothers and Sisters’.
This is one of three undated editions, probably the last as it adds Marshall’s Cheapside premises at 17 Queen Street to the imprint. The other two editions have the following wording in the imprint: ‘printed in the year when all little boys and girls should be good’: ESTC n64918, pp. 104, lists Toronto only; ESTC n47830, pp. 98, lists Bodleian, Indiana and Toronto.
This copy has an unrecorded singleton as the rear pastedown, advertising The Juvenile Magazine. This gives a total of five terminal pages of advertisements where ESTC calls for four. The present edition is dated by ESTC to 1789. However, the presence of this advertisement leaf, which describes The Juvenile Magazine, which ran from January to December 1788, as a ‘New Publication’, suggests that it was issued in 1788.
See Osborne II, p. 927, for an edition of , pp. 98 (imperfect) and an edition of 1804 with cuts by Bewick.
ESTC t120222, at BL, Cambridge, Free Library of Philadelphia, Indiana, Morgan, UCLA and Wayne State.