- New Castle, Delaware: Oak Knoll Press & The British Library, 2006.
- 9 x 12 inches
- hardcover, dust jacket
- 320 pages
- ISBN: 1584561807
- ISBN: 9781584561804
Price: $57.50 other currencies
Order Nr. 138439
First edition. Spine faded, else a good copy.
When was it that someone decided that books might be written and published for child readers? It's fair to say that some kinds of text-alphabets, fables, the Lord's Prayer, may have been seen as fundamental to the process of learning to read from the beginning of book making, but when did children come to be seen as a readership for whom special provision should be made? The child as the audience for books in the English language is the subject of this bibliographical study, which had its origins in an exhibition held at the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York. From this beginning, Felix de Marez Oyens and Brian Alderson have compiled Be Merry and Wise and shown how certain creative talents, driven by a sense of purpose, or a wish to make some money, attempted to appeal directly to children, and how the publishing industry came to realize that this audience might prove to constitute a profitable market.
In conducting their survey, which is centered upon the books themselves, mostly drawn from the holdings of the Morgan Library, the authors not only plot the chronological development of children's book publishing from almost random beginnings to the diversity of the early Victorian period, they also show how publishers adapted their trade methods to exploit this new market. Sweetness and light did not prevail everywhere, but, even in some of the most forbidding examples presented here, there was a commercial optimism that both merriment and wisdom might be happily combined, within the pages of children's literature. Co-published with the Pierpont Morgan Library, The Bibliographical Society of America, and The British Library. From the reference library of Philadelphia Rare Books & Manuscripts with their bookplate included.