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History and Biography. 1148: Sarah Trimmer, A Description of a Set of Prints of Roman History

Author: Trimmer, Sarah (Kirby)
Title: A description of a set of prints of Roman history contained in a set of easy lessons by Mrs. Trimmer
Cat. Number: 1148
Date: No date but 1823?
1st Edition:
Pub. Place: London
Price: Unknown
Pages: 1 vol., 239pp.
Size: 10 x 8 cm
Note: Title-page missing

No digitised images of this text are currently available.

Sarah Trimmer (1741-1810) produced at least thirty-three books. Some were aimed at an adult audience, but most were designed for the nursery. Trimmer's first work was An Easy Introduction to the Knowledge of Nature (1780). Her Sacred History Selected from the Scriptures followed in 1782-85, and was itself followed in 1786 by Trimmer's most enduring work, Fabulous Histories, later known as The History of the Robins (see 0241-0245). This remained in print, sometimes in abridged form, well into the twentieth century. Other titles, usually self-explanatory, like Easy Lessons for Young Children (c.1786: HC0655-HC0656), The Ladder to Learning (1792: 0003) and The Charity School Spelling Book (c.1799: 0654) followed hard upon each other's heels.

Other than Fabulous Histories, perhaps the most celebrated of Trimmer's publications were the sets of copper-plate prints on various historical subjects, accompanied by Trimmer's commentary. These came in various forms. The early editions were designed so that the prints could be pasted onto boards and hung on the wall (as the title of 1152 indicates: A series of prints of Roman history, designed as ornaments for those apartments in which children receive the first rudiments of their education). Later the prints were bound into books. They were sold either together with, or separate from, Trimmer's text. First, in 1786, came A Description of a Set of Prints of Scripture History: contained in a Set of Easy Lessons (0451). Other packages soon followed, bringing classical and English history to the nursery (1145-1152), as well as the events of the new and old testaments (0451-0460). According to the Edinburgh Review (9:177), by the early nineteenth century Trimmer was 'dearer to mothers and aunts than any other author who pours the milk of science into the mouths of babes and sucklings.'

As Trimmer was happy to admit, she originally borrowed from Madame de Genlis the idea of hanging prints in nurseries to help with the education of children (0453: p.ii). She also noted that parents apparently did not favour this mode, preferred to buy the prints already bound into books. By the early nineteenth century, however, she was issuing the prints on cards, with the text in book-form sold separately or as part of the same package. Although text and image were part of the same scheme, she insisted they should be used separately. Otherwise the child would always become distracted by the pictures, she warned, never learning to read the text (0453: p.iii).