(PANORAMA). ~ A Morning Ride mid Country Scenes. London: [G. Barclay for] George Rourledge & Co, 1852.
Folding panorama with separate letterpress text, oblong 4to (140 × 222 mm), 8 fully handcoloured lithograph sheets, joined with linen strips on verso, pp. 14, plus final advert leaf pasted as an endpaper. Some expert and judicious repair to sheet joins at to title margin, occasional very minor rubbing to sheet edges at folds. Original tan morocco stamped in gilt and blind, contemporary bookseller’s ticket, Izzard, Upper Brook Street. An excellent copy.
Sole edition, very rare, and a remarkable survival, of this pioneering and original children’s panorama. The eight joined plates present a single sequential narrative — cleverly seen from different vantage points — of a morning ride across several miles of rolling English countryside some thirty miles from London (as the milestone in the first image indicates). The two young riders (Edward and Walter) leave their large county house, pass through lanes with green fields on either side, an imaginary village with church, inn and shops, passing windmills, a watermill, bridges and (in the last 2 images) the newly-built railway with steam-trains. A good-natured and simple story, the panorama and accompanying text presents a telling microcosm of genteel English Victorian society, the participants all acting in their proper place in an ordered society. The gamekeeper’s daughter opens a gate for the boys, a family acquaintance of rank rides by in her carriage, a wagonner supplying the village shops is given a tip for ale, the father rides to hounds, while a ‘loutish’ farm boy mentioned in the text is silently omitted in the panorama. The text, printed in regular letterpress was evidently intended to be read by an adult to a child.
The use and presentation of the panorama for narrative is striking, quite unlike most contemporary British panoramas or children’s books of this date or earlier. The title page indicates that it was to form part of a series: ‘Stories told in Pictures’ of which the advert leaf mentions two further titles ‘nearly ready’: A Noon-Day Ramble and An Evening Walk. Neither appears to have survived, or perhaps were never published. A Morning Ride is exceptionally rare, with only the Opie Collection (Bodleian Library) and Rhode Island School of Design copies located. Opie EE 190. Described in detail in Hannah Field in an essay in the 2015 collection Space and Place in Children’s Literature, 1789 to the Present entitled ‘The Story unfolds: intertwined Space and Time in the Victorian Children’s Panorama’