Friday, 28 September 2018

Reading Smoky the Cowhorse in 1947


In the photo above and below, a teenager is captured—in dramatic lighting—sprawled in an armchair reading Will James's Smoky the Cowhorse (1926), winner of the 1927 Newbery Medal.

The cover art on the book matches the New York, Grosset and Dunlap editions of 1926–1940s. Since the vendor is based in New York, it is likely that this photo was taken on the East Coast of America, if not in New York itself. The verso is dated “2–8–47” (i.e., February 8, 1947), not long after the end of WW2. Beyond that, I know nothing (except that this is an evocative image, which had to be worth the trifling sum I paid for it).

Thursday, 2 August 2018

Illustrations in La Belle Assemblee

Eliza Haywood translated Madeleine Angélique Poisson de Gomez’s Les Journées Amusantes (Paris: G. Saugrain, Charles le Clerc, Ándre Morin, 1722–31), over a lengthy period, as the eight volumes of the original work appeared in 1722 (v.1–2), 1724 (v.3–4), 1730 (v.5–6) and 1731 (v.7–8). Haywood's translation, La Belle Assemblée, appeared in 1724 (pt.1–3 = v.1), 1727 (v.2), 1731 (v.3), 1734 (v.4). Part of my incentive to aggregate information about, and links to, editions of Les Journées Amusantes, which I did on the weekend (see here), was to compare the illustrations in Les Journées Amusantes with those in Haywood's La Belle Assemblée.

I have long intended to undertake a comparison of the two sets of engravings, but I was never able to find a library with a full set of first editions of both works, and—although I now have plenty of copies of La Belle Assemblée—I don't have many of Les Journées Amusantes and many of the reprints online, which I could have compared them to, either are not illustrated at all, or are only partially illustrated. Bottom line, this one has been in the too-hard basket for a long, long time.

Having made my comparison, I can report that Les Journées Amusantes contains twenty-four engraved plates: v.1 (four plates), v.2 (four), v.3 (five), v.4 (three), v.5 (two), v.6 (two), v.6 (two), v.8 (two)—that is v.1–2 (eight), v.3–4 (eight), v.5–6 (four) and v.7–8 (four). La Belle Assemblée, reproduces twenty of these: v.1 (six plates), v.2 (six), v.3 (four), v.4 (four).

As I discovered when I was researching my article "Imagining Eliza Haywood" (see here) in the first, two-volume edition of Les Journées Amusantes there is an engraved frontispiece of Louis XV in the first volume and an allegorical frontispiece of a woman in classical attire, writing, in the second. This second engraving replaced the first (i.e., the allegorical frontispiece displaces Louis XV) in the first volume in later French editions. As a consequence of this change, there was one fewer plate in later editions of Les Journées Amusantes, i.e.: v.1 (four plates), v.2 (three), etc.—that is v.1–2 (seven), v.3–4 (eight) etc.

As I mentioned, of the twenty-four (or -three) engraved plates in Les Journées Amusantes, La Belle Assemblée reproduces twenty. If we number the plates in Les Journées Amusantes, in the form 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 2.1, 2.2 etc., La Belle Assemblée reproduces them as follows: v.1 (2.1, 1.3, 3.1, 1.4, 2.2, 2.4), v.2 (1.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 4.1, 4.3), v.3 (5.1, 5.2, 6.1, 6.2), v.4 (7.1, 57.2, 8.1, 8.2).

Although the first editions of Les Journées Amusantes were illustrated, the first editions of the first three parts (which became the first volume) and the second volume of La Belle Assemblée were not illustrated. Engraved plates did not appear in La Belle Assemblée until 1728, when the first two-volume edition was published. This may be part of the reason why the frontispiece of Louis XV does not appear in La Belle Assemblée.

(That is, by the time the publisher commissioned the illustrations to be copied (1728), the frontispiece of Louis XV may no longer have been present in copies of the French edition available in London. However, since three other plates were also omitted in La Belle Assemblée, and my explanation does not apply to them, Louis XV could have been dropped for other reasons.)

As for the illustrations themselves, they are (disappointingly) pretty slavish copies of those in Les Journées Amusantes, lacking some of the details in the original** and — in the case of the four illustrations in the fourth volume of La Belle Assemblée — reversed.

By way of comparison, the Spanish translation by Baltasar Driguet, Jornadas Divertidas, reproduced only one engraving from Les Journées Amusantes, which is repeated in the first four volumes (5.1) (an original illustration is repeated in the second four volumes). A second translation into Spanish by Gaspar Zavala y Zamora, Dias alegres contains no illustrations. Likewise, the translation into Italian by Pietro Chiari, Li Giorni di Divertimento contains no illustrations. I am not sure if the German edition was illustrated.

**If I get the opportunity (if I can get decent images to work with), I will post a few paired French and English illustrations below to show what I mean.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Translations of Les Journées Amusantes

As Séverine Genieys-Kirk explained in 2007, "in addition to the multiple Paris, Amsterdam and London" editions—in French—of Madeleine Angélique Poisson de Gomez’s Les Journées Amusantes (Paris: G. Saugrain, Charles le Clerc, Ándre Morin, 1722–31), there were eight editions of Eliza Haywood's translation of this work, under the title La Belle Assemblee (detailed in my Bibliography).


However, Les Journées Amusantes (v.2 frontispiece, above) was also translated into Italian (the first six days only) by Pietro Chiari, as Li Giorni di Divertimento (1758?; 1777), German, under the title Angenehme und lehrreiche Erzählungen in vergnügten Tagen (1761), into and into Spanish, of which there are a faithful and free versions Jornadas Divertidas, Politicas sentencias y hechos memorables by Baltasar Driguet (1792–97) and Dias alegres (1792-1798) by Gaspar Zavala y Zamora.

At various times, and for various reasons, I have gone hunting for information about these other translations, and then forgotten, buried or lost that information. So, I thought I would start a page where I could aggregate information about, and links to, editions of these translations—for myself, and anyone else interested in Les Journées Amusantes.

* * * * *

Editions of Les Journées Amusantes (1724; 1728; 1730; 1736; 1744; 1754; 1761; 1770; 1777; 1776)

[1st ed.] (Paris: G. Saugrain, 1724): v.3 is here; v.4 is here.

2nd edition (Paris: Charles le Clerc, 1724): v.2 is here.

3rd edition (Paris: G. Saugrain, 1728; Charles le Clerc, 1728): v.1 is here; v.2 is here.

[Suite des Journées Amusantes (Paris: Charles le Clerc, 1730; Ándre Morin, 1730)]: v.3 is here; v.4 is here.

3rd edition (Amsterdam: Aux Depens de la Compagnie, 1736): v.1 is here; v.2 is here; v.3 is here; v.4 is here; v.5 is here; v.6 is here; v.7 is here; v.8 is here.

7th edition, revised and corrected (Amsterdam: Par la Compagnie, 1744): v.1–2 is here; v.3–4 is here; v.5–6 is here; v.7–8 is here.

New edition (London: Guil. Meyers, 1754): v.1 is here; v.2 is here; v.3–4 is here; v.5–6 is here; v.7–8 is here.

New edition (Amsterdam: Aux Depens de la Compagnie, 1761): v.1 is here; v.2 is here; v.3 is here; v.4 is here; v.5 is here; v.6 is here; v.7 is here; v.8 is here.

8th edition (Amsterdam: Par la Compagnie, 1770): v.1–2 is here; v.3–4 is here; v.5–6 is here; v.7-8 is here.

8th edition (Amsterdam: Par la Compagnie, 1777): v.1–2 is here; v.3–4 is here; v.5–6 is here; v.7–8 is here.

9th edition (Amsterdam: Par la Compagnie, 1776): v.1–4 is here; v.5–8 is here. Also v.1 is here; v.2 is here; v.3 is here; v.4 is here; v.5 is here; v.6 is here; v.7 is here; v.8 is here.


Translation into Italian (the first six days only) by Pietro Chiari (1758?; 1777) [not found online]: the first volume of a 1758 edition is reviewed in Annales typographiques, 2 (July 1760): 249–50 (no. 181)—and a two-volume set is recorded in 1774 in this catalogue. Genieys-Kirk only mentions the 1777 edition, and this is the only one I have seen images of [above].

Translation into German (1761) [not found online]


Translation into Spanish by Baltasar Driguet: Jornadas Divertidas (1792-1797) [above]: v.1 is here; v.2 is here; v.3 is here; v.4 is here; v.5 is here; v.6 is here; v.7 is here; v.8 is here.

Translation into Spanish by Gaspar Zavala y Zamora: Dias alegres (1792-1798): v.2 is here; v.3 is here; v.4 is here; v.5 is here; v.8 is here.

[UPDATED 2018.08.02]

Monday, 12 March 2018

Genre Labels and the Rise of the Novel

I have recently been reading Leah Orr’s Novel Ventures: Fiction and Print Culture in England, 1690-1730 (2017). In her book, Orr frequently references an earlier article of hers, “Genre Labels on the Title Pages of English Fiction, 1660-1800” (Philological Quarterly, 90, No. 1 (2011): 67–95), so I thought I would read it too.

The title of Orr’s article is admirably clear: she sets out to examine and enumerate the different labels that appear on prose fiction published over a 140–year period, a subject that allows her to discuss various definitional problems relating to the “Rise of the Novel,” previous and present understanding of the key terms and so forth.

Although Orr sometimes understates the achievement of her predecessors in relation to her study, the project and her summary of the data collected is very useful, as is her clear methodology, and analysis. Orr provides a detailed summary of her data, which is also admirable, but she does not provide access to her full data set—which is a little frustrating.

While reading her article I was struck by the fact that Orr’s analysis is based exclusively (it seems) on the predominance of certain key-terms in the imprints of the type of prose fiction (often referred to as novels or proto-novels) in each decade, and the pattern of decade-to-decade changes.

While this sort of big-picture simplification is absolutely necessary to summarise results, and to identify broad trends over a 140-year period, Orr does not use her full data set to examine any of the key moments she has identified in detail. So, for instance, her analysis treats, the fiction market of 1731 and 1739, or 1741 and 1749, the same—both being subsumed under a rubric of the “1730s” or “1740s.”

The loss of year-on-year perspective is important because it conceals the fact that readers, writers, publishers, critics and so forth, in 1739 or 1741, would have conceptualised what they were reading in genre terms—the “labels” that Orr is investigating—in ways that were neither uniform across a decade, or determined solely by the labels used within that decade. Rather than being labels of the moment/decade, these labels were likely understood by individuals based on their accumulated prior knowledge of the genre label (however defined, and however comprehensive that might be).

Accumulated prior knowledge is obviously highly individualised. For younger readers, “prior knowledge” may be limited to works only recently published; the prior knowledge of older readers of contemporary fiction may stretch back through five or more decades. Then again, a younger reader may prefer older texts, just as a selective reader may have read only a very narrow range of fiction from a long period. And most readers, certainly once we get to 1800, would have only read a small percentage of the fiction published, however that fiction was chosen.

Orr uses a series of averages, represented as snapshots of decade-long “moments.” Other approaches could have been used to Orr’s data in an attempt to recover a more-or-less simplified and generalised short- or a long-(backwards)-view. There are various methods that might be employed to represent the personal habits and perspectives of individual readers—the easiest of these would probably have been to calculate rolling-averages, whether three, five, ten or more years, depending on assumptions made about different types of novice and experienced readers. Since Orr does not publish her full data-set, this sort of analysis can not be done by any of her readers.

Looking at Orr’s summary of her data, it occurred to me that I could, however, use it to generate cumulative averages, which would allow for a, decade-by-decade, long backwards view. That is, by adding up the totals from all previous decades, for each term in each decade, I could capture all the instances of every key genre term that had appeared on the title-page of any work of fiction since 1660. So, for instance, in 1670, this would be a decade-long backward view, in 1680 a two-decade-long view, in 1690 a three-decade-long view, and so forth.

By 1740, Orr’s imaginary (and near-comprehensive) library of fiction would have included 731 works, published in the eighty years since 1660. In 1740, even the most diligent reader, writer, publisher, or critic was unlikely to have read all 731 of these works. Then again, such an imaginary reader would also be very unlikely to have limited their reading only to works printed in the 1730s alone (as Orr’s analysis implies). Consequently, neither the comprehensive totals (which I discuss below), nor the decade-by-decade totals, offer a satisfactory substitute for the accumulated prior knowledge of an individual reader, writer, publisher or critics.

Individual readers, writers, publishers, and critics in 1740, would have used and understood genre labels in highly individualised ways, the result of exposure to an uneven mix of works from a number of decades. Depending on the assumptions one is prepared to make, there may be ways of representing some of this accumulated prior knowledge of such individuals in a generalised form.

So, for instance, if we assume that the most recent fiction looms largest in the minds of readers, writers, publishers, and critics, and that no reader reads every new work of fiction, we might use a linear regression over three- or four decades to represent the fading importance of older works in explaining how genre labels were used and understood by an average adult reader. Taking 1740 as an example, this sort of approach we might add 20% of the figures for the 1690s to 40% for the 1700s to 60% for the 1710s and 80% for the 1730s (i.e., a twenty percent decline per decade, over four decades). An exponential regression might better capture this fading-recollection or -significance approach; we might add something like 20% of the figures for 1700s to 40% for the 1710s to 80% for the 1730s (i.e., a doubling of the twenty percent per decade for three decades).

Yet another—more nuanced, but somewhat fanciful—possibility, in an attempt to better capture the average reader, would be to attempt to establish the relative significance of important and influential periods of fiction in the minds of readers, writers, publishers, and critics. This might be done by weighting decades according to what was actually most often read in the perios, based on reading records.

n my article on the New York Society Library, based on reader records from ca. 1790, I established that there was an uneven distribution of popularity by decade (see article here). Once the borrowings-per-volume in the earliest reading ledger were totaled and distributed by decade, it is clear just how much recent titles dominate borrowings, with almost sixty percent of all volumes borrowed between July 1789 to April 1792 being from the 1780s, far ahead of works from the 1750s, 60s and 70s, at approximately ten percent each.

If we adjust for multi-volume works, however, the number of borrowings-per-work is actually highest (narrowly) for the 1750s, followed by the 1780s (mostly due to borrowings of works from the second half of the 1780s). Although works from the 1740s make up less than six percent of all borrowings, the average borrowings-per-work for titles from this decade is high—higher than titles from the 1760s and 70s. Titles from the 1750s were slightly more popular than the most recent novels on offer, showing that many older British novels retained their appeal ca. 1790 in New York.

What this suggests is that, one way to attempt to better understand how New York readers, writers, publishers, and critics used and understood genre labels, ca. 1790, would be to give greatest weight to the terms used in the 1750s, followed by the 80s, 40s, 70s, 60s, 30s, 10s, and so forth, in that order. Of course, the New York Society Library ledger is an extremely unusual survival, and it would be hard to replicate it to produce the sort of nuanced representation of the varying significance of works of fiction from different decades post-1660.

I mention these alternatives, not to criticise Orr for not attempting such either a linear, exponential or a nuanced and idiosyncratic approach, but to suggest the limitations of only examining the pattern of decade-to-decade totals for genre labels.

* * * * *

   Since my only option for an alternative analysis to that offered by Orr was to calculate cumulative averages based on an imagined comprehensive-accumulation of fiction, this is what I did. Having extracted the data from Orr’s table, I used Excel to calculate the cumulative averages for each term, organising the terms based on the final 140-year view from 1800 (left-to-right being highest-to-lowest). To make it a little easier to read the table, I used highlighter to emphasise the top two terms within the decade and in the cumulative averages. The full table is below; the most important three columns are at the end of this post.



What emerges from the cumulative averages is a strengthening of Orr’s argument, that “The Rise of the Novel” is a particularly anachronistic (as well as critically vague) phrase. As you can see above, although both “History” and “Novel” are the most-frequently used terms in an equal number of decades, and “Novel” is the most frequently-used term across the 140-year period she examines (as Orr states), “History” is the top (or co-top) term in twelve of fourteen decades, while “Novel” is only the top term in three of the fourteen. Moreover, “History” is the top term across the first 130-years of the 140-year period; it is only the massive rise in the number of novels, and the predominance of the term “Novel” in the 1790s, that displaced “History” as the top label.

The massive rise in the number of novels in the 1790s is indicated by another set of figures I generated. When expressed as a percentage of all novels printed across the entire 140-year period, those of the 1790s amount to almost a quarter (23%) of the total—almost the same figure for the first eight decades (24%). The near-exponential rise in the number of fiction titles published is indicated by the (roughly) one-quarter markers (in blue): 1660–1739 (first 25%; 80yrs), 1740–69 (second 25%; 30yrs), 1770–89 (third 25%; 20yrs), 1790–99 (fourth 25%; 10yrs).

(Interestingly, these figures suggest that there is an exponential-regression is built into the un-adjusted, cumulative figures for the use of genre labels, since any backward view that includes all previous fiction, will necessarily give the greatest numerical significance to the most recent works.)

So, while the near-exponential rise in the number of fiction titles published, paired with a late-rise in the use of the term “Novel,” make it the most frequently-used term across the 140-year period. “History” dominated from 1700 to 1790, is the top term for all but one decade of the period 1660 to 1790, and in that one decade, missed out by only one percentage point from being the top term for the first 130-years of “The Rise of the Novel History.”

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Catterall and Cowley in Sydney, 1835

When I was visiting Sydney during a university holiday in 1989, I bought a copy of The Works of Mr Abraham Cowley, 6th ed. (London: J. M. for Henry Herringman, 1680). As the photos in this blog post show, the book is in very poor condition, very badly foxed, no frontispiece, boards taped on with duct-tape. Despite its age, it would also not even now be considered a rare book—ESTC (r14069 = Wing C6654), records thirty-nine copies. But, since I had rarely seen a seventeenth-century literary folio at anything approaching a price I could afford in 1989, and I felt protective of the poor, damaged thing, I coughed up A$110 for it.


According to the Reserve Bank of Australia Inflation Calculator, I paid the equivalent of about A$250 in today’s terms. The fact that there is a nicer copy online now, rebound, with the frontispiece, for about A$150 (here) tells you everything you need to know about the rise of the internet (supply) and the passing of the Baby Boomer generation (demand) on Antiquarian book prices. In fact, there are thirty-one copies of The Works of Mr Abraham Cowley, printed between 1668 and 1700, on ABE at the moment, priced from USD75. Notwithstanding the fact that I would have been better off financially if I had invested my $150 in almost any other way—including Batman memorabilia—I am glad I bought this book. I was glad before antiquarian book prices collapsed, and I was glad afterwards.

The reason I was very glad to have my very own seventeenth-century folio of The Works of Mr Abraham Cowley—no matter how battered—when I bought it was because it made my first experience of reading Cowley uncommonly memorable … and romantic. In fact, the more my copy of Cowley showed the passage of three hundred years the better it served my purpose. I read Cowley by candle-light, during the winter of 1989. I discovered in this way that it takes a lot of candles to be able to read a badly foxed seventeenth-century folio with ease, and that a lot of candles generates a lot of wax, which is hard to remove from carpet, and a lot of heat, which will warm up even a very large and otherwise-unheated room in a cold Hobart winter. My landlord was not happy about the wax, or the soot-covered walls, but the experience of reading Cowley night-after-night, in the dark of winter, was so perfect that I will remember it with pleasure for ever.


The reason I am very glad to have my very own seventeenth-century folio of The Works of Mr Abraham Cowley—no matter how battered—now, is because, since the internet makes provenance research so much easier, I am now able to identify the person who owned this book in 1835. As you can see below, Joseph Catterall inscribed his name on the front fixed endpaper, and dated the inscription to 1835. The inscription is position above a patch of glue residue, indicating that a bookplate has been removed, but the relationship between the two is unclear: whether the inscription pre- or post-dates the bookplate, or whether the bookplate belonged to Catterall, is unknown.

* * * * *

Although, in 1989, I had no easy way of discovering who Catterall might have been, Professor Google now informs me a good deal about him. Joseph Catterall (1812–82), the youngest son of Paul Catterall, late of Lytham, in the county of Lancashire, Esq., was educated at private schools and at the University of Göttingen in Germany. He was twenty-two when he inscribed his book. He married—in Sydney, in the same year—Georgiana Anne Sweetman, who was aged twenty. This establishes that my copy of The Works of Mr Abraham Cowley has been in Australia for more than half of the book's existence (183 of 338 years), and for four fifths of the modern history of Australia (183 of 230 years). Catterall is considered “Australian Royalty”; at least, he features (here) on a website of that name. In reality, he seems to have been an all-round arsehole. The marriage ceremony was performed by the great Australian, John Dunmore Lang—the “Scottish-born Australian Presbyterian minister, writer, politician and activist” (Wikipedia)—an early advocate for the end of transportation, Australian nationalism and an Australian republic (and, therefore, all-round Australian legend, if not genuine "Australian Royalty" too).


According to Lang, Joseph and Georgiana—“a person of prepossessing appearance, … of a respectable family, and of good education” (i.e., the child a free settlers)—“had been living for some time previous in a state of concubinage.” Since Georgiana was pregnant, Lang was willing to lend his services to enable Joseph “to do his utmost to repair the wrong which I supposed he had done her”—i.e., perform a marriage—and the marriage took place “either shortly before or shortly after the birth of their first child.” Their daughter, Georgiana Ann Catterall, was born 16 February 1835 and died two months and thirteen days later. A second child, James Dillon Catterall, was born and died on 17 January 1836. Shortly thereafter, it appears, Catterall “left his wife in new South Wales, and proceeded via India” to England.

Once he had retuned to England, he instituted a suit against Georgiana, to “obtain a decree of nullity of marriage.” He argued that, although he was married to Georgiana by Lang, “an ordained minister of the Church of Scotland,” neither he or his wife were members of the Church, nor did they sign a declaration to that effect. The relevance of this is that an act had been passed in the colony “to remove doubts as to the validity of certain marriages” which he interpreted to imply that, for these reasons, his marriage was “null and void for non-compliance” with the act. This case was disputed and, apparently, abandoned. Later, Catterall filed for the marriage to be dissolved “on the ground of alleged adultery on the part of his wife.” Although Lang stated in 1846 that Catterall failed a second time, on the basis that the House of Lords had no power to examine witnesses in New South Wales to test the validity of his claim, he was in fact granted the divorce in 1847 on the basis that his wife had given birth to another child one year after Catterall left Sydney. (Seemingly, John Sydney Catterall, who was born in 1837.)

Lang’s 1846 account of Catterall is colourful and unflattering. Referring to him fleeing his responsibilities and his lack of success in putting aside an inconvenient marriage, Lang writes:

I do not think [Catterall] either deserves or is likely to meet with much sympathy … for when a young man marries a young woman whom he has previously seduced, or who has otherwise lost her character beforehand, he may be supposed to have made up his mind to undergo the very calamity which Mrs. Catterall alleges has befallen him, and which he so feelingly deplores. … Mr. Catterall, it will be recollected by the older colonists, is a person who has been before the public in this colony long ago. He had a farm somewhere in Argyle a few months before his marriage, with a farm house and other building upon it, in which he was residing with his paramour, when a ferocious attack was made upon it by armed bushrangers. He had a very brave man, known as an overseer at the time, of the name of Shepherd; who, in defence of the person and property of his master (who remained all the while within doors, within hearing of the shots), gallantly stood the fire of the bushrangers, by whom, if I recollect aright, he was severely wounded, and succeeded in beating them off. Mr. Shepherd got great credit on the occasion, for it was one of the most heroic actions that had been performed in the colony; but Mr. Catterall got about as much sympathy as he is likely to get now under the failure of his repeated attempts to set aside his colonial marriage.

And so it seems, Catterall was a coward, as well as a cad. What stands out for me in this passage is the reference to “a farm somewhere in Argyle a few months before his marriage … in which he was residing with his paramour [i.e., Georgiana].” Argyle County was (according to Wikipedia, one of the original Nineteen Counties in New South Wales, in the area around Goulburn, 195 kilometres (121 miles) south-west of Sydney. Georgiana—who also appears on the “Australian Royalty” website (here)—was, in November 1828, a thirteen-year-old “servant, to W. Cordeaux Esq, Minto,” in the Southern Tablelands, 48 kilometres (30 miles) south-west of Sydney. It is not clear how long she stayed in Minto, and how she ended up ninety miles away seven years later.

Lang said that he did not know if “Catterall had seduced the young woman in the first instance, or whether she had been of indifferent character previous to their acquaintance”—but it appears that Georgiana’s social standing was low, and her vulnerability high, prior to finding herself in “a state of concubinage” with Catterall (i.e., she was a servant); while his social standing was high, and his vulnerability low (as a university-educated, Gentleman adventurer). Consequently, I am inclined to blame Catterall for their situation, and her fate.

It is not known what hardships Georgiana endured after the cad-coward Catterall departed, but I gather that he left behind some of his belongings from the fact that more than a century and a half after he slunk away, his copy of The Works of Mr Abraham Cowley remained in Sydney. We can’t know whether Georgiana sold this book and his other belongings in the 1840s to pay for food and shelter, or clung to it in the hope he would return, or because she wished to pass it down to her descendants. I do know that her fifth child, Effield “Frank” Catterall survived into adulthood and that his four daughters—one married—mourned his death in 1892. (The cad’s two children died in infancy, while Georgiana’s two other children disappear from the records after their birth.) So it is possible that Cowley remained in the family for a lengthy period.


Unfortunately, if anyone other than Catterall left a name on the volume, it is no longer there. All that remains other than Catterall’s inscription, and the residue of a long-removed bookplate, are the marks of booksellers. From the number of prices inscribed onto the endpaper, it seems that this book circulated in the Sydney second-hand book market for some time. One of the partly-erased prices is in pounds, which dates it to before Valentine’s Day 1966, when Australia adopted a decimal currency. Not surprisingly, after almost thirty years, I have a pretty weak memory of buying this book. All I recall is buying it from a down-market antique shop in the city. A temporary-looking, run-down, second-floor shop—dusty, with stained walls and peeling plaster, and filled with a mass of not-very enticing antiques. And I think I paid the $110 asked of it, partly because I felt an obligation to rescue the book from immanent destruction. Given all the pleasure it has bought me, I am glad that I did.