|Fables and Fairy Tales||Stories Before 1850||Stories After 1850||Periodicals and Annuals||Religious Books, Bibles, Hymns, etc||Books of Instruction||Nursery Rhymes and Alphabets|
|Movable and Toy Books; Myths and Heroes||Poetry, Verse and Rhymes; Games||Games and Pastimes||Natural Science||Geography and Travel||History and Biography||Mathematics|
|Title:||Ripe Cherries or the History of William and Jane|
|Date:||No date (but c.1833? - date of inscription)|
|Publisher:||Printed for the Religious Tract Society: And sold at the Depository, 56, Paternoster-row|
|Pages:||1 vol., 16pp.|
|Size:||9 x 5.5 cm|
|Illustrations:||Title-page vignette and nine further wood-cuts|
|Note:||Bound with 0114A-0114M|
Images of all pages of this book
The Religious Tract Society (R.T.S.), publisher of this tract, was established in 1799. The aim of its founder, George Burder, and his associates was to produce cheap pamphlets for the poor which would use engaging narratives and pictures to lure readers into a more religious way of life. The R.T.S. endorsed an Evangelical type of Christianity which stressed religion for its own sake, rather than for any temporal benefits. The work which they sponsored had more in common with the later work of Mary Martha Sherwood (see 0211-0214) than the Cheap Repository Tracts (1795-98) of Hannah More which had initially inspired the R.T.S. tracts. More had written her tracts in response to the perceived perils of the French Revolution crisis. The R.T.S., by the early and mid-nineteenth century, was perhaps less anxious about an impending collapse of the established political and social order and so felt free to concentrate on saving souls rather than saving the nation. It was not afraid to cite chapter and verse from the Bible in its tracts, whereas in the later eighteenth century this would have been thought rather too Methodist. Methodism was then regarded by many in the Established Church of England as a rather radical fringe group. The R.T.S. also felt little need to curb its animosity to Roman Catholicism - see for example 0114L: pp.3-4. The R.T.S. continued to operate with an unchanged agenda throughout the nineteenth, and into the twentieth, centuries.
The R.T.S. began to produce pamphlets aimed exclusively at children - like those in the Hockliffe Collection - only in about 1812 (Carpenter and Pritchard 1984: 447). The strategy of the R.T.S. was to supply tracts at very cheap rates to Charity or Sunday Schools, or to individuals who would then distribute the tracts amongst the local children. The Hockliffe Collection possesses a complete run of the tracts from number 38 to number 50. They are bound together in leather and well-preserved, which might be taken to suggest that they were owned by a child from an affluent family who received, as it were, a subscription to the tracts. The inscription, difficult to read in some parts, gives a hint about the owner and possible date of the tracts: 'Miss Arnold / Dalston [?] 1833 [?] / Written by me, Miss Mary [?] / Judor [?] in June 1838 / Signed M J'. This would suggest that the tracts in the Hockliffe Collection were published sometime between c.1815 and 1833.
Carpenter, Humphrey & Pritchard, Mari, The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature, Oxford: OUP, 1984