ESPENER, Isabella. ~ Sentimental Poetry, Acrostics, &c. … Hull: Printed for J. Hutchinson … 1826.
12mo (171 x 104 mm), pp. 47, ; rather browned and foxed; contemporary brown paper-backed boards, rebacked with a marbled spine, boards and paper label to upper cover preserved; contemporary dedication inscription from the author, dated 1827.
First edition, very scarce, of this provincially printed book of verse by a distressed widow.
Espener uses simple and didactic poetry to criticise gossip and other malignant behaviour, as evidenced by her ‘Sketch of Dame Scandal’:
‘A sketch of Dame Scandal
I’m going to draw,
The most ugly creature
That ever you saw...
Her black tongue is so large,
It cumbers her mouth,
And her manners at times
Are very uncouth.’
The volume also includes the promised ‘sentimental’ material, including works on widowhood, hope, and domestic comforts. Also included are several epitaphs, including—curiously—two for beloved dogs. As she reveals in her Introduction, Espener writes to relieve the emotional and financial distress occasioned by widowhood. This appears to have been her only published work, although the lengthy list of subscribers attests to its popularity, and she gives thanks for ‘so great a patronage’. COPAC lists just three copies, at the British Library, National Art Library, and York. Not in Johnson, nor Jackson; Jackson, Women p 120.