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Miniature Libraries from the Children's Books Collections

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  • arnobernoarno
    http://www.vam.ac.uk/vastatic/wid/exhibits/miniaturelibraries/index.html Introduction John Marshall (fl. 1783-1828) began publishing miniature libraries for
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 26, 2008
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      http://www.vam.ac.uk/vastatic/wid/exhibits/miniaturelibraries/index.html

      Introduction

      John Marshall (fl. 1783-1828) began publishing miniature libraries for
      children in 1800. Confident, perhaps, that his innovation would
      galvanise the children's book market, he produced his first three
      libraries 'almost simultaneously'*. The Juvenile; or, Child's Library
      was probably the first to appear. Two of its sixteen volumes
      ('Quadrupeds' and 'Birds') contain advertisements for another
      miniature library, The Infant's Library. A third library, The Doll's
      Library, also appeared in 1800. Marshall published a fourth library,
      The Book-Case of Instruction and Delight (1802), as well as further
      editions of The Infant's Library in Latin, German and French, and also
      several variations on the theme of miniature libraries including The
      Infant's Cabinet Series (1800-1801), The Infant's Letterbox (1803) and
      The Doll's Casket (1815?). His remarkable success prompted imitations
      from the most prominent names in children's publishing in the early
      years of the nineteenth century.

      'The children's printer'*

      What little we know of Marshall's career suggests he was an astute and
      venturesome businessman. Thus, in the early 1780s Marshall targeted
      the existing market for Newbery-style stories, imitating John
      Newbery's Goody Two-Shoes with such works as Primrose Prettyface and
      Goody Goosecap. This type of story had remained popular in the
      eighteenth century and was a 'safe' option for a publisher at the
      outset of his career. In 1785, however, Marshall claimed to have
      discarded these chapbook-style publications in favour of the less
      frivolous (and highly profitable) stories of Lady Ellenor Fenn, Sarah
      Trimmer, Mary Ann Kilner and Dorothy Kilner. His self-appointed role
      as a protector of 'young minds' from 'prejudicial nonsense' impressed
      the religious reformer, Hannah More. During the 1790s she engaged him
      in publishing her Cheap Repository Tracts but dismissed him in 1798
      for 'trying to winkle and wring out of her religious venture every
      farthing he could for his own pocket'**. Marshall retaliated by
      publishing his own, identical (and more successful) 'Cheap Repository
      Tracts', though his dismissal by More no doubt prompted him to look
      for an opening for a new venture. It is evident from his next major
      publication, The Juvenile; or, Child's Library, that something had
      inspired Marshall to adopt a new direction in his career. From 1800
      onwards his showcase publications were no longer 'ordinary' books but
      toy bookcases, sets of picture-cards and practical teaching kits.



      *Marshall often referred to himself as 'The Children's Printer' and to
      children as his 'young friends'. (See Display Case 2).
      **Mary V. Jackson, Engines of Instruction, Mischief and Magic :
      Children's Literature in England from its Beginnings to 1839 (London:
      Scolar Press, 1989), p. 124.
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