Rare Book Profile: James Parton’s Eminent Women of the Age; being narratives of the lives and deeds of the most prominent women of the present generation

 

CoverEminent Women of the Age: Being Narratives of the Lives and Deeds of the Most Prominent Women of the Present Generation (Hartford, Conn.: S.M. Betts & Co., 1868) was compiled by popular biographer James Parton. In the preface, he explained that while many works dealt with the lives and deeds of men, “in respect to eminent women of our age, there is not in existence, so far as the publishers are aware, any work, or series of works, which supplies the information contained in this volume.” The biographical sketches in the volume were written by Parton and his wife Sara (a popular novelist who used the pen-name Fanny Fern), and sixteen others, including Horace Greeley and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Grace Greenwod. Stanton Fern, and Greenwood were also among the biographees.

James Parton (1822-1891) was a popular American biographer best known for books on the lives of prominent men, including Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Horace Greeley, General Benjamin Butler, and Voltaire, biographical collections, such as Captains of Industry (1884) and Revolutionary Heroes (1890), and nonfiction works on a variety of topics ranging from taxation of churches to humorous poetry. He was born in Canterbury, England, but came to the United States with his family at the age of 5. After completing his education in New York City and White Plains, New York, he taught school, first in Philadelphia and later in New York City. In 1875, three years after his wife’s death, he moved to Newburyport, Massachusetts, where he lived until he died in 1891.

Most of the biographees are American, with some notable exceptions, such as Florence Nightingale, Queen Victoria, and Empress Eugenie, and a number of artists and actresses. A section devoted to women as physicians was written by Henry Bond Elliot, a Congregational minister. It begins with an historical overview of medical education for women, especially in the United States, followed by biographical sketches of five American physicians: Clemence S. Lozier (Syracuse Eclectic College, 1853), Elizabeth Blackwell (Geneva Medical College, 1849), Harriot Kezia Hunt (studied privately with Dr. Richard Dixon Mott and his wife), Hannah E. Myers Longshore (Female Medical College of Pennsylvania, 1850), and Ann Preston (Female Medical College of Pennsylvania, 1866). The only subject whose portrait is included is Dr. Lozier.

The Health Sciences Library’s copy of Eminent Women of the Age was recased in its original publisher’s green cloth with gilt-stamped spine and upper board by Frank B. Roger, M.D. It is illustrated with steel-engraved portraits.

Rare materials are available to individuals or groups by appointment on Wednesday mornings and Thursday afternoons, or at other times by arrangement. To schedule an appointment, contact Emily Epstein, emily.epstein@ucdenver.edu or 303-724-2119.

[Emily Epstein, Cataloging Librarian]

Rare Book Profile: Elizabeth Grey, Countess of Kent’s A Choice Manual, or, Rare and Select Secrets in Physick and Chirurgery.

Elizabeth Grey’s A Choice Manual, or, Rare and Select Secrets in Physick and Chirurgery (London: Gartrude Dawson, 1659) is a collection of household recipes, published with her A True Gentlewomans Delight, Wherein is Contained all Manner of Cookery. The collections were edited with additions by W. Jar,” a professor of physick.” While A Choice Manual and A True Gentlewoman’s Delight have separate title pages and pagination, and are sometimes bound separately, they were printed and sold as a single work. The first part is mainly medicinal, while the second is entirely culinary, although some of the ingredients in the medicinal recipes now seem more like food than medicine.
ElizabethGreyFront
Elizabeth Talbot Grey (1581-1651) was the eldest daughter of Gilbert Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, and a granddaughter of Bess of Hardwick. She married Henry Grey, Earl of Kent in 1601. She was well educated, a patron of scholars and poets, and the employer of Robert May, famous for his book The Accomplisht Cook (1660). She was known for her medical knowledge. Her sister, Alethea Howard, Countess of Arundel, shared her interests, and published her own recipe collection, Natura Exenterata. A True Gentlewomans Delight includes a recipe for Lady of Arundels Manchet (white bread).

The first edition of the Countess’s compilation was printed in 1653 by Gartrude Dawson, who took over her husband’s London print shop after his death. Instead of addressing a nobleman, the dedication of A Choice Manual is to “the virtuous and most noble Lady, Latitia Popham,” the wife of a supporter of Oliver Cromwell, and A True Gentlewomans Delight is dedicated to Mistress Anne Pile, a baronet’s daughter. The book was a bestseller, with many updated editions. The 22nd and last edition was published in 1726.

The Health Sciences Library’s copy is the 11th edition, published 1659. The title page of the first section and the last 4 pages of the second have been damaged, with a slight loss of text, and the book lacks the Countess’ portrait. It came to the library as a gift from the Denver Medical Society, and was rebound in brown leather by Frank B. Rogers.

Rare materials are available to individuals or groups by appointment on Wednesday mornings and Thursday afternoons, or at other times by arrangement. To schedule an appointment, contact Emily Epstein, emily.epstein@ucdenver.edu or 303-724-2119.

[Emily Epstein, Cataloging Librarian]