The Milner Toys Series



As part of the Sheila R. Bourke Collection of Chapbooks in McGill University, there is a 6-part series by author Mary Martha Sherwood based on her children’s book History of Henry Milner (1837). According to the advertisements on the back cover of these chapbooks, the series is also referred to as the Milner Toys series.

Mrs. Sherwood is a prominent author of many chapbooks and children’s literature of McGill’s collection and is claimed to be “one of the most significant authors of children’s literature of the nineteenth century1. Alongside her works such as The History of the Fairchild Family, the Milner Toys series relates the theme of childhood within domesticity and religion by taking readers through the life and lessons of the fictional character Henry Milner in 19th century England.

Bibliographic Information:

Titles (in order):

I.  Master Henry’s Arrival
II.  Master Henry’s Lesson   II. Master Henry’s Lesson
III. Master Henry’s Walk
IV. Master Henry’s Visit
V. Master Henry’s Green Bag
VI. Master Henry’s Rabbit

Location: Troy, New York

Publisher: Merriam & Moore

Date: All published in 1850, except 1*

* Rare Books and Special Collection holds 2 versions of the second chapbook, Master Henry’s Lesson, the second published in the year 1851.

Chapbook Features:

Naturally, the chapbooks in the Milner Toys series share a structure that include a cover with a simple title, a title page, followed by a frontispiece, a few narrative sections, and the same advertisement on the back cover. Interestingly however, some of their similarities are not consistent across all 7 chapbooks. For example, 4 of the 7 chapbooks share the same image of a man with a young boy on the cover. The chapbook published in 1851 consists of different image of a man with a young boy walking in a field. The other 2 have, what seems to be, a fruit basket on the cover instead.

Although the cover of each chapbook includes one main title, the title page includes the titles of the other sections as part of the content of the book. Each section begins with the same style lettrine, also known as a drop-cap.

Each chapbook includes numerous woodcut engravings within the text. Some of the illustrations are done by Alexander Anderson. According to the McGill note in the catalogue, coloured illustrations were completed by hand.

Cinderella in the 1800’s

Coming across, so far, three versions of the story of Cinderella during McGill’s Chapbook Digitization Project, I thought I would share a short comparison between the three, in no particular order:

Version 1:
Title: The History of Cinderella; or, the Little Glass Slipper
Printed: Otley, England by William Walker
Date: 1813
Excerpt:  Her movements were so graceful, and her dancing performed with such nice, and, at the same time, easy exactness, that the admiration of the whole assembly was raised to the greatest height, and every part of the room resounded with loud bursts of applause.” (p. 22)

Unique to this version of the Cinderella story (from the other two) is its numerous wood-cut engraving in the shape of either a rectangle, and more commonly within the text, the shape of an octagon. Furthermore, this Chapbook includes a few stanzas of verse throughout the text alongside the main story line.

Version 2:
Title: The Surprising Adventures of Cinderilla; or the History of A Glass Slipper to which is added An Historical Description of the Cat
Printed: York, by J. Kendrew Colliergate
Date: 1820
Excerpt: ” The King’s son conducted her to the most honourable seat and afterwards took her out to dance with him. She danced so very graceful, that they all more and more admired her.” (p.17)

One of the key distinctive features of this version of the story is the spelling of the protagonist’s name. Cinderella is most commonly spelled with an “e”, however, this Chapbook has published the name with an “i”. Furthermore, unlike the other two versions, this Chapbook includes a section for the alphabet before the main body of the text as well as adds a juvenile section towards the end of a description of a cat.

Version 3:
Title: Cinderella or, The History of the Little Glass Slipper
Printed: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by Mathew Carey
Date: 1800
Except: “The king’s ſon conducted her to the moſt honourable ſeat, and afterwards took her out to dance with him. She danced so very gracefully, that they all more and more admired her.” (p.21)

This particular version of the story of Cinderella is a facsimile (an exact reproduction of the original copy) that was acquired privately by the Huntington Library in 1951. According to the printed note at the beginning of this copy, it is “the earliest known American edition of Cinderella”. Mathew Carey, the publisher of this copy, was an Irish immigrant who came to Philadelphia in November 1784. The note further mentions that the text of this version may have been derived from Charles Perrault‘s collection of stories, first published in the late 17th century.

As displayed by the above excerpt, the text closely follows the standard version of the story (Version 2 above also demonstrates this). However, unlike the previous version, this publication includes numerous Latin Ss, ct-ligature, signature characters, and wood cut oval-shaped images.