Биография Мэри Рассел Митфорд (на английском языке). Фотоизображение трехтомного издания произведений поэтессы и его описание.

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MITFORD, Mary Russell |

Belford Regis; or Sketches of a Country Town

ìI Have Never Been Able to Find One in Reliable (Even Though Dingy) ConditionîóMichael Sadleir MITFORD, Mary Russell. Belford Regis; or Sketches of a Country Town. In Three Volumes. London: Richard Bentley, 1835. First edition. Three twelvemo volumes (7 13/16 x 4 7/8 inches; 198 x 125 mm.). x, [1, contents], [1, blank], 318, [2, blank]; [4], 317, [1, printerís imprint]; [4], 348 pp. Complete with the half-title and the final blank leaf in Volume I, but bound without the final blank leaf in Volume II. Uncut, in the original drab boards with the original printed paper spine labels.

Boards lightly soiled, corners lightly rubbed, spine extremities chipped, labels slightly browned and a little chipped. Volume I with a split in the spine, but the binding is sound. Minimal foxing and browning, faint dampstain in the upper margin of Volume I, a few leaves poorly opened in Volume II. Each volume with the bookplate of Viscount Esher on the front pastedown. An excellent copy, totally unsophisticated. Each volume housed in an early brown cloth clamshell case lined with fleece. Only two copies have sold at auction in the last thirty years, one bound in calf and one bound in morocco.

Mary Russell Mitford (1787-1855) ìwas born into relatively favored circumstances; her mother was an heiress and her father a physician. Because of her fatherís profligacy, however, M[itford] spent much of her life on the edge of poverty. Indeed, it was a desperate need for money that prompted her profuse literary production, which began in the 1820s: historical dramas and the ësketchesí of rural life that made her famousÖ[Mitford] remained ambivalent about the works of her Romantic contemporaries, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Lord Byron, though she reveled in Wordsworthís and Coleridgeís praise of her work. Her preference, not surprisingly (given the similarity between their work and hers), was for the prose fiction of Maria Edgeworth and Jane Austen; her other major influence was Washington Irving. In 1824, as the first series of Our Village was about to be published, she explained that the book ëwill consist of essays and characters and stories, chiefly of country life, in the manner of the ëSketch Book,í but without sentimentality or pathosótwo things which I abhoríÖOur Village, the work that was to establish her as an international celebrity, [was published in five volumes] in 1824, 1826, 1828, 1380, and 1832.

She described it as ënot one connected story, but a series of sketches of country manners, scenery, and character, with some story intermixed, and connected by unity of locality and of purpose.í This is in fact an accurate description of the work, which did not fit into traditional notions of genre but instead created a new form, ëvillage fiction,í and provided the basis for a dominant nineteenth-century womenís literary tradition, that of the local-color writers.

Particularly strong in the United States, it included such writers as Caroline Kirkland, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Rose Terry Cooke, and Sarah Orne Jewettóall of whom were directly influenced by M[itford]. She also had an effect on American writer Catherine Sedgwick, with whom she corresponded, Irish writer S.C. Hall (Sketches of Irish Character), and Elizabeth Gaskell, whose Cranford is a direct descendant of Our Village. Our Village is narrated by a persona who guides the reader through the streets of her town, describing in detail the surrounding vegetation, housing, and landscape as well as the various ëcharactersí who inhabit the villageÖOur Village became a popular rageÖM[itford] continued her studies of rural life with Belford Regis (1834), Country Stories (1837), and Atherton (1854)î (Josephine Donovan in An Encyclopedia of British Women Writers).

Sadleir found this an elusive title: ìThere is only one significant gap in this collection of Miss Mitfordís fiction: Belford Regis, 3 vols. 1835, a novel I have never been able to find in reliable (even though dingy) condition. A tentative description from bound copies [bound three-vols.-in-one] in Statutory Libraries is provided.î Sadleir 1742. Wolff 4820. 1835 first edition