Get the latest
Recent Posts

A Scholastic Finding, a Scholar’s Mystery: Letters to Young Ladies on Their Entrance into the World: To Which are Added Sketches from Real Life

“Both men and women are travellers in the great journey of life: as a species, their origin, their final destinies, their moral duties, are the same. Women, equally with men, to prepare themselves for the as yet unknown paths which they may be called to tread, should, while young, endeavour to acquire some store of useful knowledge, and daily and hourly try to regulate their hearts, their understandings, their tempers, and their duties, by fixed and steady principles of religion and morality.” — Mrs. Lanfear, Letters to Young Ladies on Their Entrance Into the World

Letters to Young Ladies on Their Entrance Into the World
Elizabeth Hays Lanfear (1765-1825)
London: published by J. Robins and Co., 1828
Second edition

In Letters, first published in 1824, Elizabeth Lanfear discusses female improvement, domestic duties, education, maternal affection, single life, conjugal duties and more. A separate section, “Sketches from Real Life,” includes five didactic tales for girls. Lanfear was the younger sister of Mary Hays (1759-1843), a novelist and author of Female Biography. Elizabeth also wrote a novel titled Fatal Errors; or, Poor Mary-Anne (1819).

There are only three copies of the first edition of this work listed in OCLC (Online Computer Library Center), a global non-profit library cooperative whose 17,983 member libraries reside in 123 countries. OCLC produces and maintains WorldCat, the world’s largest online public access catalog. The three libraries listed that hold the first edition are Harvard, the National Library of Ireland and the National Library of Scotland. The J. Willard Marriott Library purchased this copy in fall of 2012. It is the only copy of the second edition listed in WorldCat.

Professor Timothy Whelan at Georgia Southern University contacted Rare Books in April of this year, interested in the apparently very rare second edition. Dr. Whelan was the first person to uncover Elizabeth Lanfear’s connection to Mary Hays, her sister, and to discover Elizabeth’s novel, Fatal Errors, which was read by Mary Wollstonecraft and and Mary Hays in 1796. All three were writing novels at the time, although Elizabeth’s was not published until 1819. She died in 1825, one year after the first edition of Letters was published and three years before the second edition was published.

Dr. Whelan’s website, Mary Hays: Life, Writings, and Correspondence found within Dissenting Women Writers, 1650-1850, includes a link to information on what little is known of Elizabeth. Dr. Whelan published the only paper on Elizabeth Hays Lanfear in Wordsworth Circle, 2016 and will be publishing her novel, Fatal Errors, with Routledge in 2019.

Fatal Errors has a short introduction signed “E. Lanfear” from Islington. In an email, Dr. Whelan wrote, “Other than that, all other references to her only appear as Mrs. Lanfear. Her identity has been lost to literary and women’s history until now.”

Dr. Whelan had not seen a copy of the second edition of Letters and consulted us regarding its similarity to the first edition. Other than the lack of a portrait frontispiece and the notation “Second Edition” on the title-page, there appears to be no difference between the first and second edition printings.

Rare Books copy bound in contemporary half calf over marbled boards.

No Comments

Post A Comment