In the front of the book Sketches of Human Manners appears the following advertisement.

‘It is intended, in this small volume, to combine, in a few simple stories, innocent and moral entertainment, with an account of the characteristic manners and peculiar customs of different countries. Most of the incidents, as well as the descriptions, are gathered from the writings of travellers of reputation ; and the author flatters herself she shall once more experience the indulgence of a public, to which she feels herself under lasting obligations.’

Published in: on April 25, 2010 at 2:36 am  Leave a Comment  


In 1807 Priscilla published Sketches of Human Manners, Delineated in Stories, intended to illustrate the Characters, Religion, and Singular Customs, of the Inhabitants of Different Parts of the World.  

The book is rather small and a delight to handle. One of the features is the use of multiple typefaces on the title page. The title covers 13 separate lines of text and each of them seems to be different font.

To date this book has not been digitised.

Published in: on April 25, 2010 at 2:35 am  Leave a Comment  


Microfinance is not a term that Priscilla would have recognised but as the founder of the first English savings bank she certainly understood the concept.

This is an area that David Roodman researches following are links to posts on his blog about Priscilla Wakefield

Published in: on April 13, 2010 at 11:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Priscilla’s home in Tottenham

According to information on the Haringey Council website Priscilla lived near what is now the High Cross United Reform Church on 310 High Road, Tottenham.

Approximately here from Google Maps (

London N15 4BN, UK (High Cross URC, Tottenham, High Cross High Road)

Published in: on April 13, 2010 at 11:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

The shark attack

In the final pages of Excursions in North America Arthur Middleton has one more encounter with a dangerous animal. Arthur, Henry and Sancho are reunited on a ship making its way to Canton. Arthur, who was an excellent swimmer, enjoyed plunging into the sea. But on one occasion he was approached by a voracious shark. Seeing his friend in danger Sancho jumped into the water and saved him.

Priscilla writes:

‘This fortunate deliverance strengthened the mutual regard of Arthur and Sancho, as each had received from the other the most signal benefit, and rendered their obligations equal ; though there was still a disparity in their circumstances, which Sancho never forgot, observing the most respectful conduct towards his liberator; who, on his side, endeavoured, by every condescending attention, to diminish the distinction between them.’ (p. 420)

Published in: on April 11, 2010 at 3:45 am  Leave a Comment  

Animal encounters

In Priscilla’s travel books Arthur Middleton had many encounters with the local wildlife. In Excursions in America Arthur is bitten by a rattle snake, although he had been told not to go near it. Henry Franklin reported that the effect of the venom was reduced by the ‘leaves of a plant’  and hoped that Arthur had learnt from the accident. p. 70-71.

Apparently not, as soon after Arthur is saved from an alligator by an Indian wielding a tomahawk. In thanks for saving young Arthur’s life  Henry Franklin presented the Indian with trinkets and a bottle of rum. p. 97.

Published in: on April 10, 2010 at 5:33 am  Leave a Comment  

Sancho & slavery

The development of the character of Sancho marks an important point in Priscilla’s writing about slavery. In previous books she had included the abolition message but with Sancho she creates a character that had experienced slavery and brings that story to the reader.

But for Priscilla this is just a half-way point in bringing the abolition message to the fore.  In the Traveller in Africa published in 1817 her travel hero Arthur Middleton (along with Sancho) is enslaved by Moors.  Slavery, in whatever form it took, was abhorrent to Priscilla.

For a detailed discussion of Priscilla Wakefield’s writing on slavery and the role of Sancho see:

Johanna M. Smith. ‘Slavery, Abolition, and the Nation in Priscilla Wakefield’s Tour Books for Children’ In Discourses of Slavery and Abolition: Britain and its Colonies, 1760-1838, Ed. Brycchan Carey, Markman Ellis and Sara Salih, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

Published in: on April 3, 2010 at 11:10 pm  Leave a Comment  


Sancho is a character that first appears in Excursions in North America. When Arthur and Henry Middleton visit a slave market they encounter Sancho a young man who is about to be sold. Arthur persuades Henry to purchase Sancho with a view to give him his freedom. Sancho is employed as their servant for the journey and later settles with his wife in Nantucket.

Sancho later makes a return in the book The Traveller in Africa when he accompanies Arthur on another journey.

Published in: on April 2, 2010 at 3:36 am  Leave a Comment  

North American map

The digitisation of publications such as Priscilla’s makes these relatively hard to find books accessible. However, what it cannot show are the maps and provide the tactile experience associated with opening them. In Excursions on North America the folded map is inside the front cover and opposite the title page. It is quite large consisted on five folds diagonally and one horizontally. The continent is outlined and the route of the travellers is traced in red. The map has the following words ‘Engraved for Priscilla Wakefield’s Excursions’.

Published in: on April 2, 2010 at 3:23 am  Leave a Comment