Rescue Work by Women among Women – Mary Hannah Steer



Miss Mary H. Steer

Title: Rescue Work by Women among Women
in Women’s Mission by A. Burdett-Coutts
Author: Miss Mary Hannah Steer
Sampson Low, Marston & Co
Year: 1893

Mary Hannah Steer was born in 1846 at Torpoint, Cornwall. She was the eldest child of five children born to Joseph and Hannah Steer. Her father was a Congregational Minister who had a number of different ministries, including that of the Congregational church in Tottenham.  Mary became a committed Christian at a very young age and helped her father in his church work. She never married and remained a deeply religious woman.

Miss Mary H. Steer  wrote her paper on Rescue Work by Women among Women in a collection edited by Baroness Burdett-Coutts. She was always clear that her work was ‘Christian but undenominational’.

“without this merging of our lives into theirs, and a serious and practical study of the world in which these poor degraded ones live, we shall never make the headway we desire in saving that are called the ‘lapsed classes’ … casual visiting among the poor is so often of such little avail in spite of well-meaning efforts.”

Steer made contact with women through ‘the doubles’ (lodging-houses providing double rooms with no questions asked). She would ask them round for tea, and with a mix of patience, advice and prayer she would gently push forward with her pioneering work. She acquired a house in Prince’s Square that accommodated six women, and in 1884 three houses in Betts Street (Stepney/Wapping) which was a street of the worst possible repute. In 1888 a new refuge and night shelter was opened in Betts Street by Adeline, Marchioness of Tavistock (later the Duchess of Bedford), who was a keen supporter of Steer’s work. The night shelter in Stepney catered for destitute women, and was able to accommodate 18 women. The refuge was very close to the sites of the Jack the Ripper murderers and at that time, panic and hysteria were rife in Stepney. The team also conducted ‘rescue work among fallen women’, and preventive work with girls. They established a mother and baby home (for seven mothers) in Walthamstow  and in due course  five children’s homes, in outer London.

Mary Steer was a friend of Annie McPhearson and Dr Barnardo. Like them she enthusiastically supported and promoted schemes to send destitute and vulnerable children to Canada where, she believed, they would be able to make a better useful Christian life than would be the case if they stayed in England.

This is twinned with Absolute Truths by Feven Em, Sogol Sur, Rosie Rosenberg (pub.2017). Read more about it here.


Landmarks of a Literary Life – Mrs. Newton Crosland

Title: Landmarks of a Literary Life, 1820-1892
Author: Mrs Newton Crosland (Camilla Dufour Toulmin)
Publisher: Sampson Low, Marston & Company Limited
Year: 1893

Camilla Dufour Toulmin (Mrs Newton Crosland)

Landmarks of a Literary Life recorded Mrs Crosland’s meetings with leading figures in the world of art and literature during her long career as a writer. Crosland’s memoir recalls her acquaintance with writers such as the poet Robert Browning, the novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne and the journalist Douglas Jerrold. She also describes meetings with several artists, including the sculptor Hiram Powers and the French animal painter Rosa Bonheur.

Writing during the midst of oppressive Victorian social codes for women, Camilla Toulmin Crosland challenges the accepted codes of work, marriage, and education for women in her short fiction. Her address is mainly to the middle class on the behalf of the working class, but she specifically appeals to middle-class women, who she thinks have the opportunity and responsibility to better the condition of their sisters.

Camilla Dufour Toulmin (1812-1895), later Mrs Newton Crosland
Camilla Dufour Toulmin was born on 9th June 1812 at Aldermanbury, London. Camilla was the daughter of  William Wilton Toulmin (1767-1820), a London solicitor, and his second wife Sarah Wright (1783-1863). Camilla’s father died when she was eight years of age and although “she evinced exceptional precocity, being able to read at the age of three years”, she received little formal education and was essentially self taught. In her mid-twenties she embarked on a literary career, contributing poems, stories, essays, historical sketches and short biographies to a range of periodicals including ‘The People’s Journal,’ ‘The Illustrated London News’, ‘Ainsworth’s Magazine,’ and ‘Chambers’ Journal’. Many of Miss Toulmin’s early stories were concerned with ” the sufferings of the poor”.

In 1848, Miss Toulmin married an American-born wine merchant named Newton Crosland (1819-1899). Under the name of Mrs Newton Crosland, she published a collection of poems and two novels, ‘Mrs Blake’ (1865) and ‘Hubert Freeth’s Prosperity’ (1873). In her early eighties, towards the end of her life, Mrs Crosland produced her memoir ‘Landmarks of a Literary Life’. Mrs Camilla Crosland died at her home in East Dulwich on 16th February 1895.

This book is twinned with Venus as a Boy by Marcus Wratton and Dimitra Petsa (pub.2017) read more about it here.

The Oubliettes
A poem by Camilla Dufour Crosland based on Victor Hugo, describing an offence against the modesty of a sleeping woman.

If sulphurous light had shone from this vile well
One might have said it was a mouth of hell,
So large the trap that by some sudden blow
A man might backward fall and sink below.
Who looked could see a harrow’s threatening teeth,
But lost in night was everything beneath.
Partitions blood-stained have a reddened smear,
And Terror unrelieved is master here.
One feels the place has secret histories
Replete with dreadful murderous mysteries,
And that this sepulchre, forgot to-day,
Is home of trailing ghosts that grope their way
Along the walls where spectre reptiles crawl.
“Our fathers fashioned for us after all
Some useful things,” said Joss; then Zeno spoke:
“I know what Corbus hides beneath its cloak,
I and the osprey know its ancient walls
And how was justice done within its halls.”
“And are you sure that Mahaud will not wake?”
“Her eyes are closed as now my fist I make;
She is in mystic and unearthly sleep;
The potion still its power o’er her must keep.”
“But she will surely wake at break of day?”
“In darkness.”
“What will all the courtiers say
When in the place of her they find two men?”
“To them we will declare ourselves—and then
They at our feet will fall.”
“Where leads this hole?”
“To where the crow makes feast and torrents roll,
To desolation. Let us end it now.”

These young and handsome men had seemed to grow
Deformed and hideous—so doth foul black heart
Disfigure man, till beauty all depart.
So to the hell within the human face
Transparent is. They nearer move apace;
And Mahaud soundly sleeps as in a bed.
“To work.”
Joss seizes her and holds her head
Supporting her beneath her arms, in his;
And then he dared to plant a monstrous kiss
Upon her rosy lips,—while Zeno bent
Before the massive chair, and with intent
Her robe disordered as he raised her feet;
Her dainty ankles thus their gaze to meet.
And while the mystic sleep was all profound,
The pit gaped wide like grave in burial ground.

The Big Noddy Book – Enid Blyton

33_the_big_noddy_book_enid_blyton_1Title: The Big Noddy Book
Author: Enid Blyton
Illustrator: Beek
Sampson Low, Marston & Co Ltd
Year: 1959

Noddy’s First Bath
When Noddy Went Shopping
A Day With Little Noddy
Noddy’s New Umbrella
Noddy’s Garden
The Beautiful Red Boots
Noddy Has Some Adventures
Big-Ears’ Smoky Chimney
Noddy’s Little Hooter
Noddy’s Birthday
Cheeky Little Black Doll
All Aboard for Toyland
Noddy’s Balloon
Noddy is Very Funny
It Served Him Right

Noddy is an icon. Even today, 60 years after his ‘birth’ and just over 40 years after his creator’s death, he is probably the main character to be associated with the name Enid Blyton. For many children, Noddy was their introduction to Enid Blyton and once they were hooked there was a tasty menu of Blyton books to move on to. In a twenty year period between his conception and Enid’s death, 154 books of various shapes and sizes graced the shelves of the bookshops.

He was created in wood by Old Man Carver, but was soon off to Toyland and from then on was constantly in trouble, a small child’s dream of the perfect ‘naughty little boy’ — but a boy with a house of his own and a stylish red and yellow car. He was always in trouble with PC Plod, but Big-Ears was often on hand to offer fatherly advice.

enid_blyton_1a_50Enid Mary Blyton (11 August 1897 – 28 November 1968) was an English children’s writer whose books have been among the world’s best-sellers since the 1930s, selling more than 600 million copies. Blyton’s books are still enormously popular, and have been translated into almost 90 languages; her first book, Child Whispers, a 24-page collection of poems, was published in 1922. She wrote on a wide range of topics including education, natural history, fantasy, mystery, and biblical narratives and is best remembered today for her Noddy, Famous Five, Secret Seven, and Adventure series.

Much of the success of Noddy was undoubtedly down to the colourful illustrations of Harmsen Van der Beek, and the various illustrators who took up the mantle after Beek’s death in 1953. Eelco Martinus ten Harmsen van der Beek (Born October 8, 1897 in Amsterdam) was a Dutch illustrator and commercial artist and already well known in the Netherlands when he approached us (Sampson Low) at the end of the 1940s. The result was the creation of the Noddy series for young children, authored by Enid Blyton – still a major property for animators half a century later. Van der Beek simply signed his work as “Beek”. The conscious intention to create a Disney-style sympathetic focus character — a European Mickey Mouse — was reportedly a major factor. Beek’s death in 1953 led to a few new illustrators for the Noddy books, amongst which was his assistant Peter Wienk.

Beek’s father was a pharmacist in Amsterdam. As a child, he and his brother Hein sold postcards which Beek had drawn, on the streets of Amsterdam. Eelco attended the Rijksschool voor Kunstnijverheid and the Rijksacademie voor Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam from 1916 to 1918 and subsequently began a career as a commercial artist, as well as an illustrator for newspapers and magazines. 

Thank you to Dean and Glen Reddick for donating this book to the Sampson Low archives.

This book is twinned with one of our modern publications/authors, Colouring Walls by Stella Tripp (2017). Read more about it here.

My Musical Life and Recollections by Jules Prudence Riviere

Jules Prudence Riviere

Jules Prudence Riviere

Title: My Musical Life and Recollections.
Author: Jules Prudence Riviere
Publisher: London: Sampson Low, Marston & Company Limited
Year: 1893

Jules Prudence Riviere
Born in Paris in 1819, Jules Prudence Riviere began his life long musical career as a choir boy in France before going on to establish himself as a phenomenal French composer. In 1857 the French Emperor and Empress presented him with a commemorative signet ring commending his astonishing orchestral performances. The success Riviere experienced in France brought him to England in 1857 where he instantly established a name for himself. With performances at the Adelphi and Alhambra Theatres, Cremorne Gardens and the Covent Garden Promenade Concerts he not only demonstrated his musical talent but charmed and enchanted audiences.

In 1887 Jules Prudence Riviere acted as musical director at Llandudno Pier Pavilion; during this time he pioneered the launch of the seaside promenade concert. After establishing himself in Llandudno, Riviere developed a forty-two piece orchestra who played regularly at the Pier Pavilion and were received as a massive success.

my-musical-life-and-recollections_jules_prudence_riviere_4The lure of the new Victoria Pier in Colwyn Bay proved irresistible and in 1890 Jules Prudence Riviere and his orchestra were secured to perform for the opening season. At the official opening on June 2nd 1890 Riviere orchestrated a phenomenal concert which featured the critically acclaimed Madame Adelina Maria Clorinda Patti.

On moving to Colwyn Bay, Riviere’s took with him the name of his Llandudno Home: Bod Alaw, translating to ‘musical place’. However his residence in the town was sadly short lived as on December 26, 1900 Jules Prudence Riviere passed away, aged 81. He can be found buried at Llandrillo yn Rhos Churchyard.

Subsequent to his death, the street which he had lived for just 7 months was changed to ‘Riviere’s Avenue’ in honour of his contribution to Colwyn Bay. On St. David’s day, 1950, ‘Bod Alaw’ primary school opened to the public in what was Riviere’s home.

This book is twinned with Altogether Elsewhere (2017) by Jazzman John Robert Clarke. Read more about it HERE.



The Two Admirals by James Fenimore Cooper

Title: The Two Admirals. A tale of the sea.
Author: James Fenimore Cooper (September 15, 1789 – September 15, 1851)
Publisher: Sampson Low, Marston & Co Ltd
Year: 1900

the_two_admirals_3c-copyThe Two Admirals is an 1842 nautical fiction novel by James Fenimore Cooper. The novel was written after the Leatherstocking Tales novel The Deerslayer. Set during the 18th century and exploring the British Royal Navy, Cooper had originally intended to write a novel where ships were the main characters, though eventually decided not to. The novel is one of three which Cooper would revise for editions following their first printing, the other two being The Pathfinder and Deerslayer.

When republishing the novel in the 1860s, Cooper’s Daughter, Susan Fenimore Cooper, described the novel as “the least successful of his romances of the sea”. Despite the novel not having a large legacy, critic Steven Harthorn describes the novel as one of Cooper’s deepest studies of masculinity.


James Fenimore Cooper

James Fenimore Cooper (September 15, 1789 – September 15, 1851) was a prolific and popular American writer of the early 19th century.

His historical romances of frontier and Indian life in the early American days created a unique form of American literature. He lived most of his life in Cooperstown, New York, which was founded by his father William on property that he owned. Cooper was a lifelong member of the Episcopal Church and, in his later years, contributed generously to it. He attended Yale University for three years, where he was a member of the Linonian Society, but was expelled for misbehavior.

Before embarking on his career as a writer, he served in the U.S. Navy as a Midshipman, which greatly influenced many of his novels and other writings. The novel that launched his career was The Spy, a tale about counterespionage set during the Revolutionary War and published in 1821. He also wrote numerous sea stories, and his best-known works are five historical novels of the frontier period known as the Leatherstocking Tales. Among naval historians, Cooper’s works on the early U.S. Navy have been well received, but they were sometimes criticized by his contemporaries. Among his most famous works is the Romantic novel The Last of the Mohicans, often regarded as his masterpiece.

Twinned with Poetry WTF?! #2 by Howie Good (2017) – Read more about it here