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Poetry, Verse and Rhymes; Games. 0722: Anon., Anecdotes and Adventures of Fifteen Young Ladies

Author: Anon. (Sharpe, Richard Scrafton)
Title: Anecdotes and adventures of fifteen young ladies. By the author of 'Anecdotes and adventures of fifteen gentlemen'
Cat. Number: 0722
Date: No date but c.1822
1st Edition: Unknown
Pub. Place: London
Publisher: E. Marshall, 140, Fleet Street, from Aldermary Church-Yard
Price: 1s 6d
Pages: 1 vol., 18pp. (unnumbered)
Size: 18 x 10.5 cm
Illustrations: Frontispiece, title-page vignette plus 14 other coloured engravings (3 coloured in pastels)
Note: Inscription on fly-leaf: 'Nancy Davis'

Images of all pages of this book

Page 003 of item 0722

Introductory essay

In 1820 John Harris and Son published The History of Sixteen Wonderful Old Women, the first ever book of limericks (see 0569I and 0841). Within a year or two, John Marshall had published two rival books of limericks. First, probably in 1821, came Anecdotes and Adventures of Fifteen Gentleman. This was followed, presumably fairly quickly, by this work, Anecdotes and Adventures of Fifteen Young Ladies. They may have been written by Richard Scrafton Sharp (c.1775-1852) and illustrated by George Cruikshank's elder brother, Robert (Carpenter 1984: 24).

Marshall's two books developed the Limerick form by (sometimes) using two different lines to begin and end the stanzas (see for instance p.14). Sixteen wonderful old women had always repeated the first line as the last. According to his own account, it was Anecdotes and Adventures of Fifteen Gentleman which inspired Edward Lear to produce his celebrated Book of Nonsense in 1846.

Some of the limericks in Anecdotes and Adventures of Fifteen Young Ladies are essentially cautionary tales in verse. The Young Lady of Wales, for instance, is reprimanded for biting her nails (p.2). Others are more nonsensical. The Young Lady of York does nothing more than laugh at a man who has lost his wig while killing a pig (p.5).

Carpenter, Humphrey & Pritchard, Mari, The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature, Oxford: OUP, 1984