Traill, Catharine Parr
The Backwoods of Canada: Being Letters from the Wife of an Emigrant Officer, Illustrative of the Domestic Economy of British America.
Seller ID: 2040
London: Charles Knight, 1836. Second edition (pp. xiii, 352, appendices), this copy from the library of W. T. C. [William Thornton Cust] Boyd of the prominent Boyd family and with his bookplate (See DOCB, Boyd, Mossom Martin). Duodecimo (17 cm), twenty engraved illustrations, in original brown publisher’s cloth, gilt lettering to spine. Traill’s first book, according to Needler in Otonabee Pioneers, was intended ‘to enlighten the people of the Old Country on Canada, and to encourage immigration,- not to discourage it, as her sister Mrs. Moodie [who suffers at Needler’s hands] did in Roughing It in the Bush’ (95). Earlier, Needler writes, ‘...for seven years the Traills lived the stern life of pioneers making themselves a home in the unbroken forest land of the upper Otonabee. Here, in the midst of such hardships as she could never have dreamt of as she left her home in the Suffolk countryside, Catharine Parr Traill found time to write the long letters on the experiences of the first four years that make up her book...’ (90). In History of the Book in Canada, George L. Parker in his article “Courting Local and International Markets” says, ‘Almost as disheartening [as the fortunes of John Richardson, author of Wacousta] were the circumstances of the Strickland sisters, who arrived in 1832, both recently married to half-pay officers, and ready to carve out homes in the wilderness near Lakefield, Upper Canada. In England they and their sisters [who remained in England] had turned to aswriting as a source of financial support after their father’s bankruptcy and death.... They were in desperate financial straits through the 1830s and quite unsuited to pioneer life, but they exploited their hard-ships in best-selling books about genteel upper-middle-class emigrants. Traill sent descriptive letters to her sister Agnes Strickland [author of the successful Lives of the Queens of England], who used her own reputation and influence to have Charles Knight issue these as The Backwoods of Canada...in his Library of Entertaining Knowledge’ (349). According to Parker, Traill’s first book, though it received good reviews, was reprinted several times (notably in an edition which included chapters on the Rebellion of 1837) and was translated into French and German, earned its author all of 125 Pounds-- hardly a ticket out of the wilderness (395). Traill’s principal later works include The Female Emigrant’s Guide (1854), Canadian Wildflowers (1868), and Studies of Plant Life in Canada (1885)-- the latter two owe much to the lithographs contributed by Traill’s niece Agnes FitzGibbon (later, Chamberlin). Neatly repaired binding (rebacked, spine laid down). A very good copy of Traill’s first book.
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