Autograph letter, signed Mary I. Knill, to the Rev. R. S. Cook of the American Tract Society. TRACT TRADE, Mary Isabella Knill.

Autograph letter, signed Mary I. Knill, to the Rev. R. S. Cook of the American Tract Society.

Chester [England], Oct. 17, 1854. Stampless cover, unlined blue folio, 9.8 x 7.88 inches, 3 pages plus integral address. Approx. 600 words. Clear ink stamps for Chester and Liverpool. Outside panels sunned and somewhat stained; a little loss to one edge from the original seal (present); in very good condition, quite legible. With a preliminary transcript. Item #19994

“I have a little piece of poetry, by me, which you have not had, and so I will send it. I do not know if you will like it, but it is a favourite with some of my little friends, and I thought it might do for the Child’s Paper. It is of course my own.” On securing the American evangelical ammunition needed for winning the hearts and minds of pious children in England. Knill, the daughter of the English evangelical missionary (to Jamaica, India, and St. Petersburg, Russia) who had settled later in life as a nonconformist preacher in Chester, here writes to Russell S. Cook of the American Tract Society to request more children’s publications and to alert him that she will submit a poem for publication in the Child’s Paper. (Though the Tract Society is not mentioned by name, the letter is directed to Cook at the 150 Nassau St. address, where the society had its headquarters from 1847 to 1858; see the AAS 19th Century American Children’s Book Trade Directory.) Knill’s request for publications carries a hint of perhaps teasing impatience, noting, “I have never had any additional ‘Child’s Papers’ and my friends are continuously inquiring for them. What shall I tell them? That they need not expect any for you will not send them? Then I want some other things from your side of the World if you would be so kind as to see that that they come. I want four copies of ‘Songs for the little ones at Home’ and one of those little books of hymns and tunes, like that you had with you here, out of which we all sang together the night before you sailed. Do you remember? . . . Please make them all up into a big parcel and send them straight to me here as those Edinburgh people charge double carriage. Here is the list lest you should forget. 8 additional copies of the Child’s Paper for each month in this year. 4 — — ‘Song for the little ones at home.’ 1 — — ‘Hymn Book’ ?” Knill sends news of a week of revivals, promises more information on the old Providence House landmark in Chester, and offers to settle her accounts as needed. Knill seems likely the author responsible for the anonymous short pieces datelined Chester, Eng. in the early issues of Child’s Paper, as well as at least one piece published under the name Mary Isabella from Chester. Knill appears to have been born March 28, 1835 and baptised in November of that year (baptism records that year have her name misspelled Knell); by the 1861 census, she is listed as married to the non-conforming minister Charles Chapman.

Price: $250.00

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