Book of the Week: Frances Hays: Women of the Day

Frances Hays (ed), Women of the Day: A Biographical Dictionary of Notable Women Contemporaries, published by J.B. Lippincott & Co (Philadelphia), 1885. This is a copy of the American edition, published in the same year as the London, Chatto & Windus, edition.

This is a superb biographical source on interesting 19th-century women. The first entry is on Lea Lundgren Ahlborn, a Swedish artist, and the last is on Helen Zimmern, a German-born British journalist and writer. The hundreds of  entries in between give biographical details of women who were ‘notable’ – for their work rather than their position in society – in the latter half of the 19th century but who have now rather faded from view.

This books is, therefore, a very useful vademecum for those researching the period. The general reader, too, will find plenty to interest her in this biographical bran tub.

Frances Hays clearly did much of her research in the Reading Room of the British Museum, thanking both ‘Mr John P. Anderson, Assistant in the British Museum, for much valuable aid’ and noting her indebtedness to Dr Garnett (who was assistant keeper of printed books at the Museum).

This is a copy of the American edition, first published by J.B. Lippincott & Co (Philadelphia), in the same year, 1885, as the London, Chatto & Windus, edition. In fact, apart from the title page, the editions are likely to have been identical. Although the title page of this copy dates it to 1885, bound in at the back is a 32-page section listing Chatto & Windus books dated June 1891. I doubt that the book actually ever saw Philadelphia: it was presented to The City of York Public Library by C.J. [Cuthbert Joseph] Kleiser (1855-1929), a Yorkshire-born watchmaker. What an excellent choice; it makes one want to know more about Mr Kleiser.

The copy is in good conditon, in its original binding, with the City of York Public Library bookplate on the front pastedown and relatively discreet shelf mark on the spine. £75 plus postage.

To buy: email e.crawford@sphere20.freeserve.co.uk

 

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