Hartford, Connecticut: A. D. Worthington & Co., Publishers, 1884.
Hardcover. This glorious, gilt-decorated, 715-page tome is a tribute to the illustrious women of late 19th century America, with profiles of suffragettes, abolitionists, activists, doctors, founders, and novelists, penned by their personal friends, many of whom were also foremost women writers of the time. The stars spangled across the cover hint at the starry firmament of figures celebrated within. These inspiring subjects include beloved Little Women writer Louisa May Alcott and Secret Garden writer Frances Hodgson Burnett, suffragettes Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the cross-dressing stage actress Charlotte Saunders Cushman, astronomer Maria Mitchell, medical doctors, sisters, and the first and third women to receive a medical degree in the United States Elizabeth and Emily Blackwell, founder of the American Red Cross Clara Barton, pioneering feminist and first American female war correspondent Margaret Fuller, abolitionist, suffragette, and Native American rights activist Lydia Maria Child, and many, many more. As the subtitle declares, this beautiful book is "full of romantic story, lively humor, thrilling experiences, tender pathos, and brilliant wit," nicely illustrated in full-page portraits mainly from photographs taken expressly for this book and fine full-page engravings from original designs by T. W. Williams, counting 47 illustrations in all.
Published by subscription 36 years before women would legally gain the right to vote in the United States, this 1884 book sought to stoke the flame of women's progress, as witnessed by its publishers' preface: "All over the land, women are conscious of a ferment and disturbance of thought which is the prophecy of better things. Everywhere they are asking, 'What can I do to hasten the New Day?' It seemed, therefore, to the Publishers of this volume that the time had come when the simple story of what a few women have done would prove an inspiration and incentive....to kindle new hopes and ambitions in unknown hearts....to be of use to other women, struggling for bread, or the right to labor, or an honorable fame...." Now a hundred years after the 19th Amendment, this book remains true to its aim: "Finally, the publishers venture to hope...it will bring something of the courage, patience, steadfastness of purpose, cheerfulness, and lofty aspiration which fill the lives whose history it records."
9 1/8" X 6 1/8". xxvii, 715pp. Bound in deep blue cloth over boards, dazzlingly decorated in gilt, with stars, flowers, torches, banners, and more to upper board and spine. Moderate wear to binding, with some scattered rubbing, edgewear, and small tears to bumped corners and head and tail of spine. Patterned floral endpapers. Gift inscription--"To Mother, Christmas 1887" to flyleaf. Small area of surface tearing to front pastedown, likely from a removed bookplate. Hinges are a touch tender and some gatherings proud. Binding remains sound and square--quite an achievement for a book with this large of a text block and over 135 years old. Very occasional inked mark to pages. Illustrated in pictorial title page and 46 plates. Very good. Item #8232