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Wollstonecraft, Mary.

Original Stories, from Real Life;


Rare First Edition
[Wollstonecraft, Mary.] Original Stories, from Real Life; With Conversations, calculated to regulate the affections, and form the mind to truth and goodness. London: Printed for J. Johnson, 1788.
12mo.; lacking the final blank; single wormhole in inner margins of about fifty laves, contemporary sheep, neatly rebacked. In a specially made quarter-morocco slipcase.
First edition of Wollstonecraft's popular collection of stories of rogue parents and their hapless children; issued simultaneously in octavo and duodecimo formats. Three more editions appeared in the 1790s-one with illustrations by William Blake-as did translations in French, German, and Danish. Windle A3a; CBEL II, 1255; Todd, Mary Wollstonecraft: A Revolutionary Life, pp. 126-9.
Wollstonecraft shaped these didactic tales out of her experiences as a governess in Ireland to the daughters of the autocratic and overbearing Lady Kingsborough. In the stories, the children are rescued from uncaring aristocratic parents by a discerning surrogate mother, "Mrs. Mason," just as the Kingsborough daughters were rescued by Mary Wollstonecraft. When a few years later one of the daughters, Margaret Jane, left her husband and children, she lived under the assumed name of "Mrs. Mason." Wollstonecraft provided a belligerent preface, accusing parents of neglect in their children's upbringing. Her publisher, Johnson, wanted the preface muted, but Wollstonecraft refused, remarking: "If parents attended to their children, I would not have written the stories." The few sensible parents, she said, would not be hurt and the foolish were "too vain to mind what is said in a book intended for children."

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