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Stories Before 1850. 0247: Frances Bowyer Vaux, Domestic Pleasures

Author: Vaux, Frances Bowyer
Title: Domestic pleasures; or, the happy fire-side. Illustrated by interesting conversations. By F. B. Vaux
Cat. Number: 0247
Date: 1816
1st Edition: 1816
Pub. Place: London
Publisher: Darton, Harvey and Darton, 55, Gracechurch-street
Price: Unknown
Pages: 1 vol., 255pp.
Size: 17.5 x 10 cm
Illustrations: Engraved frontispiece

Images of all pages of this book

Page 002 of item 0247

Introductory essay

Like Vaux's other works (see her Henry: a story, for instance, 0247), Domestic Pleasures is an attempt to fuse secular instructional material with a narrative which would engage the reader. Vaux's avowed inspiration for Henry was Edgeworth's Early Lessons (which is briefly discussed on p.200). Here she relies more on the plan of Barbauld and Aikin's Evenings at Home (1792-96: see 0052-0054). Vaux's text takes the form of twelve 'conversations' between members of the Bernard family - a father and mother, and six children ranging in age from five to fifteen. The conversations are generally instructional, with one or more children reciting the lessons they have learned, or their parents passing on new information. In this way, the reader hears about such various subjects as the habits of the lemming or Lapland marmot (p.67ff.) and the duty of charity (p.2ff.), the Eddystone lighthouse (p.224ff, pictured in the frontispiece) and the folly of criticising a sermon because the minister is 'disagreeable-looking' (p.111). Above all, the children recount and discuss Roman history. This takes up perhaps fifty per cent of the book, but, as Vaux says in the preface, it is not meant to 'supersede the more detailed accounts that are usually put into the hands of children.' (p.iv) A set of questions appear at the end of the book, the answers to which may be found at the pages specified. This presumably acted as a sort of index, and as a tool to promote the review and learning of the text.

Frances Bowyer Vaux produced several other similar pedagogical narratives. Her Henry: a story, 0248 in the Hockliffe Collection, was also published in 1816. So too was The dew-drop; or, the summer morning's walk (with a second edition in 1818). The promised visit, including an account of the various methods of manufacturing paper in different countries appeared in 1818. Nothing else is known of Vaux's life or career.