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Stories Before 1850. 0111: Anon., The Folly of Pride

Author: Anon.
Title: The Folly of Pride; exemplifed in The Story of Theresa Newman. And Filial Affection
Cat. Number: 0111
Date: No date (but 1812?)
1st Edition:
Pub. Place: London
Publisher: James Wallis, 77, Berwick Street, Soho
Price: 3d
Pages: 1 vol., 19pp.
Size: 12.5 x 8 cm
Illustrations: Three woodcuts

Images of all pages of this book

Page 003 of item 0111

Introductory essay

The Folly of Pride reads as though it was a single episode from a much longer moral tale. A young girl, Theresa, is haughty and vain. Thinking herself the most important and fashionable personage in the area, she disdains the attentions of a young man whom she meets at a neighbour's house. When he is revealed to be the son of a Lord, she regrets her former rudeness, but cannot undo its effects. Both the Lord's son, and the Lord himself, ignore her, recognising the superior merits of her humble, but more charming friend. This kind of salutary incident formed the staple of children's literature throughout the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. What is remarkable here is that it is crammed into the form of a chapbook. The story is under ten pages long, is illustrated by a couple of crude woodcuts, and is printed on cheap paper. It cost only three-pence too. Indeed, the story is so compressed that there is even room for a second tale, Filial Affection. Apparently an episode from Montesquieu's life, the story tells of the philosopher paying off the ransom required to return a father, captured by Barbary corsairs, to his dutiful and industrious son. The moral tale, in other words, has here fully appropriated the most common form of popular literature, just as Hannah More and Sarah Trimmer had hoped it would.

The title-page of The Folly of Pride records its publisher as James Wallis of 77 Berwick Street, London. A James Wallis was certainly operating there in 1812 (Brown 1982: 212), which suggests an approximate date for The Folly of Pride. However, a James Wallis was also publishing various titles, some of which were children's books, in the years 1797 to 1803, and perhaps later too (according to the British Library catalogue). This was probably the James Wallis, bookseller and stationer (and publisher too), who was declared bankrupt in 1801, and again in 1805 (Maxted 1977: 237). He may or may not have been the James Wallis active in Berwick Street in 1812. If they are one and the same, The Folly of Pride might date from any year from c.1798 to c.1820.

Brown, Philip A. H., London Publishers and Printers, c.1800-1870, London: British Library, 1982

Maxted, Ian, The London Book Trades 1775-1800. A Preliminary Checklist of Members, Old Woking, Surrey, 1977