An Introduction to Botany

Priscilla’s book An Introduction to Botany in a Series of Familiar Letters, with Illustrative Engravings,  was first published in 1796. In the preface she states, ‘botany is a branch of natural history that possesses many advantages ; it contributes to health of body and cheerfulness of disposition, by presenting an inducement to take air and exercise … till of late years, it has been confined to the circle of the learned, which may be attributed to those books that treat of it, being principally written in Latin ; a difficulty that deterred many, particularly the female sex, from attempting to obtain the knowledge of science… May it become a substitute for some of the trifling, not to say pernicious, objects, that too frequently occupy the leisure of young ladies of fashionable manners …’

To make the subject accessible to children Priscilla devised two characters, Sisters Felicia and Constance. The text consists of twenty eight letters from Felicia to Constance describing the various classes of plants.

An 1811 edition is available here : Introduction to Botany

The significance of this work is Priscilla’s move into a new subject area and specifically targeting the book at young women.  The female character Felicia imparts information through a letter format – one that Priscilla would use in many other books. And in the voice of Felicia Priscilla finds a personal mode of communication with the child reader.

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Published in: on August 2, 2009 at 3:53 am  Leave a Comment  

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