Our Village.

By Mary Russell Mitford

Printed: 1947

Publisher: George G Harrap & Co. London

Dimensions 15 × 22 × 2 cm

Language: English

Size (cminches): 15 x 22 x 2

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Red leather spine with gilt title and decoration on the spine. Red cloth boards.

F.B.A. provides an in-depth photographic presentation of this item to stimulate your feeling and touch. More traditional book descriptions are immediately available.

A lovely rebound collector’s edition in leather from George G. Harrap. London. 1947. First Edition Hardback. Illustrated with wood engravings by Joan Hassall.

Our Village is a collection of about 100 literary sketches of rural life written by Mary Russell Mitford (1787–1855), and originally published during the 1820s and 1830s. The series’ first appeared in The Lady’s Magazine. The full title is: Our Village: Sketches of Rural Character and Scenery. The vivid series was based upon life in Three Mile Cross, a hamlet in the parish of Shinfield (south-east of Reading in Berkshire), where she lived.

Miss Mitford’s own short preface states:

‘The following pages contain an attempt to delineate country scenery and country manners, as they exist in a small village in the south of England. The writer may at least claim the merit of a hearty love of her subject, and of that local and personal familiarity, which only a long residence in one neighbourhood could have enabled her to attain. Her descriptions have always been written on the spot, and at the moment, and, in nearly every instance, with the closest and most resolute fidelity to the place and the people. If she be accused of having given a brighter aspect to her villagers than is usually met with in books, she cannot help it, and would not if she could. She has painted, as they appeared to her, their little frailties and their many virtues, under an intense and thankful conviction that, in every condition of life, goodness and happiness may be found by those who seek them, and never more surely than in the fresh air, the shade, and the sunshine of nature.’ (1835 Edition, I, pp.v-vi)

Mary Russell Mitford (16 December 1787 – 10 January 1855) was an English author and dramatist. She was born at Alresford in Hampshire. She is best known for Our Village, a series of sketches of village scenes and vividly drawn characters based upon her life in Three Mile Cross near Reading in Berkshire.

Mitford was a prolific and successful writer, though the quality of her prose has elicited mixed opinions. In his introduction to a 1997 reprint of selections from Our Village, Ronald Blythe stated that “it is hard to know what to praise most, her style or her spirit. Both rise to heights rarely found either in the women’s journalism of her day or in a woman who by every law of the time should have been crushed by adversity.” On the other hand, Tom Fort, writing in 2017, took the view that “for a reader of today she is rather hard going … She is, I’m sorry to say, trite, sentimental, long-winded, short-sighted, arch, chatty and twee.”

Esther Meynell’s 1939 novel English Spinster: a portrait is a fictional treatment of the life of Mary Russell Mitford.

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