Book of the Week: Betham, A Biographical Dictionary of Celebrated Women, 1804

Matilda Betham: A Biographical Dictionary of the Celebrated Women of Every Age and Country, printed for E. Crosby, 1804..

‘I was induced to believe that a General Dictionary of Women, who had been distinguished by their actions or talents, i various nations, or at different periods of teh world, digested under an alphabetical arrangement, which had never been done in our language, might meet with a favourable reception.’

Matilda Betham (1776-18520, poet, artist and biographer, was a friend of Coleridge, Southey and the Lambs. Celebrated Women begins with an entry on ‘Abassa, an Arabian Princess of the Eighth Century’ and ends with ‘Zoe, fourth of Emperor Leo VI’ taking in on the way a hundred stars, their light now a little dimmed, only waiting the discerning eye to burst into life. ‘Authenticity, and impartiality have been my aim throughout, conceiving thsoe principles to be of most consequence in a work of this kind, than ornamental writing.’ A fascinating compilation – not only for itself, but for the thought of a young woman at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries taking the trouble to amass so much information.

First edition – 852pp – bound in half leather and marbled boards – very good – scarce – £200.

To buy contact e.crawford@aphere.20.freeserve.co.uk

 

 

 

 

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