Philadelphia, Carey, 1794. Item #41609
8vo; Period full leather, 12mo, 246 pages. 3 volumes in 1, as issued. With seperate title page for each volume. Included in the "William B. Cairns Collection of American Women Writers 1650-1940" at UWisc-Madison. WR. I, #2252. Susanna Rowson, née Haswell (1762-1824) was a “British-American novelist, poet, playwright, religious writer, stage actress, and educator, considered the first woman geographer and supporter of female education. She also wrote against slavery. Rowson was the author of the 1791 novel Charlotte Temple, the most popular best-seller in American literature until Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin was published serially in 1851-1852 and authored the first human geography textbook Rowson's Abridgement of Universal Geography in 1805. Charlotte: A Tale of Truth [was] later reissued in America as Charlotte Temple, where it became the new nation's first best-selling novel. This popular story of seduction and remorse has gone through more than 200 editions. The novel sparked much controversy, both over its content and whether it could actually be considered a novel due to its minimal number of pages. ….in 1791, Susanna and [her husband] William took in his orphaned sister Charlotte Rowson and they all turned to acting….In 1793, the three Rowsons were recruited for the Philadelphia theatre company of Thomas Wignell, also performing with them in Baltimore. Over the next three years in Philadelphia, she wrote a novel, an opera, a musical farce about the Whiskey Rebellion (The Volunteers), a poetical address to the American troops, and several songs for the company in addition to performing 57 roles on the stage in two seasons. Rowson's work as a playwright and actor encouraged the growth of performing art in the United States. In response to her seemingly new-found republicanism and the liberal gender roles in her work, Slaves in Algiers, she was attacked by William Cobbett, who referred to her as 'our American Sappho' (she returned fire, calling him a 'loathsome reptile' in her introduction to Trials of the Human Heart).In 1796, Susanna reestablished contact with her old Edinburgh director, John Brown Williamson. He had taken over the Federal Street Theatre in Boston, and the Rowson trio relocated there in part to be closer to the more familiar residence of her youth and her core American literary fan-base. The bankruptcy and major restructuring of the Boston theatre in 1797 would have sent Susanna and William to Charleston, but rather than head south they abandoned the stage after a few summer performances in Newport and Providence, Rhode Island….On leaving the stage, Susanna opened the first 'female academy' in Boston in 1797 'Mrs Rowson's Academy for Young Ladies.’ The earliest American map samplers (1779,1780) were by students Lydia Withington and Sally Dodge who were educated there and cover detailed images of Boston harbour and islands and detailed street plan. Desiring a more rural setting, Rowson would move her school to Medford, then to Newton, Massachusetts, before returning it to Boston in 1809. She was a leader on female education and also the first woman geographer, publishing the first American education book on geography Rowson's Abridgement of Universal Geography in 1805, a textbook focussing on human geography not maps and including information on the position of women, the cultural, religious, financial and social structure of different continents and in particular the impact of the 'barbarous, degrading traffic' of slavery. She also published Youth's First Steps in Geography in 1811. She managed her school until 1822 and trained hundreds of girls overall. Rowson also continued her writings, producing several novels, an additional work for the stage, a dictionary as well as the two geographies and as a contributor to the Boston Weekly Magazine (1802–1805). Her educational and literary work helped provide support for a growing household. Having no children of their own, they took in” many members of William’s family, including a niece, “Rebecca Haswell, who would marry Roxbury mayor John Jones Clarke, becoming great-grandmother of poet E. E. Cummings” (Wikipedia). No copy appearing for sale at any major auction house in the last 35 years. OCLC: 9108455. Front hinge stating, 1.5” chip to crown of spine, heavy wear to boards and blank endpapers. Wear, stains, and previous owner’s name (“Eliza Colfax”) in period hand to half title and title page. Good Condition Thus. Scarce 18th Century American Women’s imprint. (AC-22-24).