Five Rare Books for Collectors: Women in Literature, Art and Science

The 19th Century Rare Book and Photograph Shop

A rare Caroline Herschel manuscript on her discovery of a comet

Highlights from The 19th Century Rare Book and Photograph Shop's latest catalogue Magnificent Books & Manuscripts include:

* Caroline Herschel, autograph manuscript observations of her discovery of a comet. In this wonderful scientific manuscript Caroline Herschel records her observations of her newly-discovered comet, known today as 35P/Herschel-Rigollet. Caroline Herschel manuscripts are very rare in the market. Only one letter—and no scientific manuscripts—appears in the auction records of the past fifty years.

* Louisa May Alcott, autograph letter signed to Ms. Thurston. Louisa May Alcott discusses the impact of Little Women and its place in children’s literature. She observes that “My ‘Little Women’ have much astonished their Momma by making many friends for themselves, & she can only account for it by the grain of truth that lay at the bottom of the little story.” “The praise & value most you have given me, in saying that my effort to do something toward putting simpler & healthier food before the little people has been made evident at least, though very imperfectly carried out.” The recipient of this letter was likely Louise M. Thurston (1848-1917), then an aspiring young author from Chicago.

* Emma Frances Johnston, her personal archive of approximately 350 photographs. This tremendous discovery is the extensive photographic archive of the little-known Victorian photographer Emma Frances Johnston. This is aparently the earliest comprehensive archive of a female photographer in private hands. Beginning around 1858, Johnston made this wonderful series of portraits of her friends and extended family comprising the intellectual and social world of nineteenth- century Hampstead in London

* Emily Dickinson, autograph letter signed “Emily” to her neighbor Adelaide Spencer (Mrs. Henry) Hills. In this touching, poetic letter, Emily Dickinson consoles her friend and neighbor Adelaide Spencer Hills. Likely referring to Adelaide’s daughter Carrie (b. 1876) or Susan (b. 1882), Dickinson writes, “We are much grieved for the sufferings of the little one, which are so artlessly undeserved, and beg her mama to assure her of our tender sympathy. The odor of the flower might please her, as these little beings are only ‘on a furlough’ from Paradise. With love for the mama, and sorrow for her weariness, Emily.

* Harriet Beecher Stowe, autograph manuscript signed, “Description of the twelve Months of the Year, A New Year’s Dream. This is evidently the earliest extant literary manuscript by Harriet Beecher Stowe, one of the most influential American authors of the nineteenth century. Stowe wrote this 144-line manuscript when she was just fourteen, around 1825. At that time she was in her second year as a student at her sister Catharine’s Hartford Female Seminary. In the year she arrived, the school started a student literary magazine that she helped to edit. She preserved this manuscript among her personal papers for years. Some time after 1836, when at age 25 she married Calvin Stowe, she wrote in its left margin, “By Harriet Beecher, now Mrs. Stowe - written at the age of fourteen.”