The Seven Ages of Woman, and Other Poems.London, Hurst, Chance, & Co., 1827 Stock Code: 138335
NotesFirst edition, presentation copy from the author's sister, inscribed on the half-title "To Mrs Cautley with Jane M Strickland's love", later inscribed on the half-title verso, "To Miss G. F. J. Foster with compliments from Andrew J Cutler", with the ownership signature of Ida S. Cutler to the title page.
The Seven Ages of Woman is Agnes Strickland's (1796-1874) third published collection of verse. Its title poem challenges Jaques' "All the world's a stage" speech in Shakespeare's As You Like It ("one man in his time plays many parts, / His acts being seven ages"). Strickland's poem opens with: "Thou, whose bold genius in so short a span, / Marked the seven stages of the life of man; / Yet hast omitted, in thy gifted page, / To paint the eras of his consort's age; / Lend me thy deathless spirit, whilst I show / Each change of Woman's days, through weal and woe" (p. 1).
All but one of Agnes's sisters became writers. She and Elizabeth (1794-1875) are best remembered for their collaborative series of intensively researched, pioneering biographies of the queens of England and Scotland: "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). Catharine and Susanna emigrated to Canada, making a name for themselves with their popular accounts of settler life.
Jane Margaret Strickland (1800-1888), who has inscribed the present copy, primarily wrote children's stories. Her chief work, the schoolbook Rome, Republican and Regal: a Family History of Rome, was edited by Agnes and published in two volumes in 1854. The proceeds from this made Jane financially independent and allowed her to buy her own cottage. She published a biography of Agnes, whom she admired greatly, in 1887. A year later Jane died at Park Lane Cottage in Southwold, where the later recipient of this copy, Georgiana Fanny Julia Foster (1891-1975), lived. Foster inherited a large collection of Strickland material; her mother, Georgina Gertrude Foster (née Cubitt; 1850-1922), had lived in the Stricklands' childhood home in Southwold. Fanny Foster was of great help to Una Pope-Hennessy in the preparation of the latter's biography of Agnes. In the acknowledgements Pope-Hennessy wrote: "my thanks are due to, lastly, Miss Fanny Foster of Park Lane Cottage, Southwold, whose interest in the Stricklands is hereditary. Miss Foster had proved indefatigable in hunting out information for this counsel as well as for ready help with photography and introductions to persons who still remember the Strickland sisters I hereby register my appreciation and gratitude" (p. vii).
The connection between the Stricklands and Fosters and Mrs Cautley and the Cutlers, who gifted and owned this copy at various points in time, remains unknown.
Octavo. Original drab boards, printed paper spine label, uncut.
Some light rubbing and soiling to spine and extremities, spine starting along foot of front joint, shallow knock to fore edge of rear board. A near-fine copy in the original binding, contents bright and clean, the paper stock of particularly good quality.
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