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Popular tales
Title : Popular tales Popular tales View More Images
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Creator : Edgeworth, Maria, 1767-1849
Source : Home treasure library
Place Of Creation : London
Publisher : Ward Lock and Tyler
Date of creation : [1893?]
Additional Creator : Unitarian Church children's library
Format : Book
Contributor : State Library of South Australia
Catalogue record
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Donated by : Unitarian Church, Adelaide
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Description :

The Children's Library of the Unitarian Church in South Australia was established in October 1859 'in the hope of exciting a taste for reading among the younger members of the congregation', and is believed to be the first children's library in Australia. The books for the Library were selected with great care 'as regards their doctrinal as well as moral tendency' but also combined amusement with instruction. The figures of usage recorded in the annual reports clearly reflect the Library's continued popularity amongst the young members of the congregation.

The children paid a small subscription and borrowed books on Sundays. There were usually between 20 and 30 borrowers. The most significant years of the library were those from 1859 until the First World War and this was when the collection was richest. Catalogues were published periodically. The 1893 catalogue lists 841 books. Edgeworth's Popular tales was number 520. Most books are inscribed on the flyleaf 'Unitarian Christian Church Children's Library'.

Maria Edgeworth was a noted 19th century writer. With her father, Richard Edgeworth, she wrote essays on education of children. The parent's assistant, published in 1796, contained one of these essays together with stories for young readers. Practical education was published in 1798. Edgeworth saw no value in the reading of fairy tales or imaginative literature, but despite the didacticism of her writing she wrote 'vividly, had a good ear for natural dialogue, and above all made flesh-and-blood characters out of many of the children she portrayed.' (Carpenter p. 163)
Coverage year : 1859-1969
Further reading :

Butler, Marilyn. Maria Edgeworth: a literary biography, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972

Carpenter, Humphrey. The Oxford companion to children's literature, Oxford [Oxfordshire]; New York: Oxford University Press, 1984 pp.163/4

Unitarian Christian Church (Adelaide, S. Aust.). Children's Library. Catalogue of the Children's Library, 1893, [Adelaide: The Church], 1893 (Adelaid : Whillas & Ormiston, Printers)

Crompton, Launcelot, 1896-1998. Interview with Launcelot Crompton [sound recording], OH 405/1

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