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STRICKLAND, Agnes [& Elizabeth].

Lives of the Queens of England from the Norman Conquest.

Compiled from official records and other authentic documents, private as well as public. Preceded by a biographical introduction by John Foster Kirk.

Philadelphia, George Barrie & Son, 1902-3 Stock Code: 139088
£3,250.00

A superb edition of one of the "most popular of all Victorian historical publications" (ODNB)

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Notes

The Victoria edition, number 439 of 1,000 richly illustrated subscriber's copies printed on japon, this handsome set printed for Blanche Elizabeth MacLeish Billings. Lives of the Queens of England, originally published between 1840 and 1848, is the Strickland sisters' best-known work, and an important landmark in the development of the biographical genre.
By the early 1830s Agnes (1796-1874) and Elizabeth Strickland (1794-1875), each in their own right enjoying successful literary careers, chose to move towards "a new field of authorship, popular history: they had decided to collaborate on a series of biographies of the queens of England. By the early 1830s Agnes and Elizabeth were devoting part of the morning to reading historical manuscripts in the British Museum Library, with instruction in palaeography from the staff. 'Facts not opinions' was the motto adopted by the sisters, and their manuscript research was both pioneering and intensive" (ODNB). They lobbied politicians to secure entry into the State Paper Office, which did not normally admit women, making them the first women to gain access. The resulting Lives of the Queens of England "covered enough new ground to be genuinely innovative. Their general thesis was that queens as rulers had been important historical agents (not, as some historians had argued, usually nothing but tools for the ambition and abilities of men) and that queens as women had exercised a civilizing feminine influence as instruments of moral and religious improvement" (Orlando). Like the sisters' numerous other historical biographies it was published under Agnes's name only, by joint agreement, to suit Elizabeth's reclusive nature. "They were undoubtedly key figures in the development of writing on women's history, playing a role in creating a tradition of female worthies which can be seen as the first step towards fuller scholarly investigation" (ODNB).

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Description

16 volumes, octavo (210 x 135 mm). Contemporary green crushed morocco, titles to spines in gilt, rose bouquet tooled in gilt to spines with red morocco inlaid petals, monogram of Mrs C. K. G. Billings in gilt to front covers, single rule frame in gilt to covers, board edges and turn-ins rolled in gilt, floral patterned endpapers, edges gilt.

Illustrations

Title pages printed in red and black. Frontispieces, 147 plates with captioned tissue guards, and 2 folding facsimile manuscript plates.

Condition

Library shelf label to front pastedowns. A small publisher's slip with an extract from "Modern Bookbinding Practically Considered" entitled "How to open a new book" is loosely inserted in a couple of volumes. Spines uniformly sun toned, negligible rubbing to bottom edges, occasional slight residue from turn-ins to pastedowns of last few volumes, very occasional foxing; a handsome near-fine set.

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