Sketches in Verse, and other Poems … by STOPFORD, Octavia.

Sketches in Verse, and other Poems … by STOPFORD, Octavia. < >

~ Sketches in Verse, and other Poems … Hull: Printed for the Author … 1826.

8vo (200 x 120 mm), pp. xii, 142; light foxing to endpapers and title-page with occasional browning at edges; untrimmed in publisher’s boards, remnants of paper label to spine; upper joint cracked but holding; presentation inscription from the author: To ------ / With the Author’s kind regards. Pontefract 13th Novr 1841’

First edition, extremely scarce, of this provincially printed verse compendium by the Yorkshire poet Octavia Stopford Crosthwaite.
In her Introductory ‘Verses to the Reader’, Stopford promises ‘simple weeds, in sombre hues’, but her poems reveal strong opinions, forcefully expressed. Perhaps most revealing is her acerbic comment on contemporary mores, ‘Fashion in 1825’:
Some do not rise till noon, and dine at night,
Then in full dress appear,—in robes so light
That naked arms and bosoms are a sight,
Unblushing shown by fashion!
She lampoons foppishness as evidenced by ‘Trowsers so wide, like bolsters on our beds’, and offers an insight into fashion both sartorial and social:
The waltz, quadrille, Der Frieschutz, fill the hours,
With strains Italian; — classifying flowers, —
And lectures philosophic, speak the powers
Of Ladies in the Fashion.
A curious footnote refers to the huge cost of a music festival at York Minster, and the poem is a mine of wry contemporary observation. The lengthy list of subscribers suggests that her readership was predominantly based in the North-West of England, and includes the volume’s dedicatee Sir William Foulis. COPAC records three copies only, at the British Library, Cambridge, and York. Not in Johnson; Jackson, Women p.319.

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