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Senate House Library

Martin Collection

The Collection 

Subject: English literature 

182 discrete volumes of children’s books (200 titles), published c.1784-1865, with a clear emphasis on the combination of education and entertainment. The books are all small (duodecimo), to fit easily into children’s hands. Most are in English, with a few in French. Evangelical/moral fiction predominates, including several works by such leading writers of the time as Mrs Sherwood, Maria Edgeworth, and Sarah Trimmer, and others by Hester Chapone, Dorothy Kilner, and Barbara Hofland. The collection includes adaptations of books not originally intended for children (Pilgrim’s Progress; Robinson Crusoe), some Christmas books, and, oddly, poetical works by William Congreve, Joseph Addison and Samuel Butler (Hudibras). Non-fiction for children - for example, botany; English history - is also present, partly written in standard dialogue form between an enquiring child and an omniscient adult.  

The major children’s (and chapbook) publishers of the time are represented, such as Thomas Tegg, Groombridge, the Dartons, and John Harris. A few early-nineteenth-century ownership inscriptions are to be found. There are some examples of illustration and of Victorian decorated cloth bindings. A few titles are rare, such as Clara Chilcott’s Lucy, or, The Sad Consequences of Disobedience (3rd edn, 1840)—the title says it all. 

Miss Mabel Irene Martin (d. 1982) of Eastbourne brought the books together and bequeathed Senate House Library fifty books of its choice. The Library showed its appreciation of the collection by purchasing the remainder.


For an overview of the collection, do a mixed classmark search on [Martin] or an author search on ‘Martin, Mabel Irene’ as former owner. The collection is held off-site and material requires 48 hours (excluding weekends) to be fetched. 

Related materials 

The Prize Collection (other children’s books).