London: Simpkin, Marshall and Co, 1861. First Edition. Three quarter calf. Presentation Copy. Octavo, uniformly bound with The Lives of the Queens of England in tan three quarter calf over yellow marbled boards, matching marbled endpapers, five raised ridges to spine, red panel with gilt title, black panel with author’s name, xi, 433pp. Frontis and illustrated title are lightly age toned and foxed. No bookplate, but F. Foster in ink on first blank and inscribed note tipped in on second blank: “Yours most affectionat [sic - here the note is trimmed to fit the page] Agnes Strickland, March 22 1863”. Loosely inserted a picture postcard from Julia Owen to Mrs Foster. Fine. Item #78
“Miss Strickland was the first woman to force an entry into the State Paper Office and the permit wrung from Lord Normanby after Lord John Russell had dismissed her application is among the exhibits shown.” (from AGNES STRICKLAND. Centenary of the Queens of England 1840 – 1940).
Agnes and Jane Margaret Strickland were sisters in a literary Victorian family. Of seven Strickland children all but one became authors. Agnes was first published as a poet but is best known for her historical biographies. The proceeds from Jane Margaret's schoolbook Rome, Regal and Republican: A Family History of Rome, edited by her sister Agnes, gave her the means to purchase her own cottage. The items now on offer were once part of a larger one that also included books and correspondence from two sisters who moved to Canada with their husbands: Susanna Moodie and Catherine Parr Traill, well known authors in their own right. The original collection passed from Agnes and Jane Margaret to Georgiana Fanny Julia Foster, a lifelong resident of Southwold and staunch defender of its heritage. Una Pope Hennessey warmly acknowledged Fanny Foster in her 1940 biography of Agnes Strickland:
When baffled by having drawn the usual sources of enquiry blank, I began to believe that Miss Strickland was the rarest of all human species, a celebrity who had disappeared leaving no trace behind: it was Miss Foster who said to me ‘Try Canada!’ Try Canada I did and for this counsel as well as for ready help with photography and introductions to persons who still remember the Strickland sisters I hereby register my appreciation and gratitude. (Hennessey, p.vii).
From Fanny Foster the collection passed to Mrs May Hunter and was then acquired by Norfolk bookseller David Ferrow. In 2000 he agreed to separate it in order for a private Queensland collector to acquire the books by Agnes and her sister Jane Margaret. A handful of items have clearly been added over the years (e.g. Hennessey’s biography), but most of the collection of 40 items can be traced back to the Stricklands, Reydon Hall and Park Cottage. Highlights include an association set of The Queens of Scotland with corrections for the second and third editions [now sold], a number of signed or inscribed copies, a number of her works in first edition, and the handsomely bound first edition set of The Lives of the Queens of England [now sold] with which this separate volume is uniformly bound.