London: Henry Colburn, 1842. Item #00735
Borscht and Caviar
In the Court of Catherine I
HOFLAND, Mrs. [Barbara]. The Czarina; An Historical Romance of the Court of Russia. By Mrs. Hofland…In Three Volumes. London: Henry Colburn, 1842.
First edition. Three twelvemo volumes (7 5/16 x 4 5/8 inches; 186 x 118 mm.). , 302; , 317, [1, blank]; , 325, [1, blank] pp. Bound without half-titles (possibly as issued?).
Contemporary half plum calf, decoratively ruled in blind, over marbled boards. Spines decoratively ruled and numbered in gilt and ruled in blind with four raised bands and brown morocco gilt lettering labels, edges sprinkled red. Spines faded to brown, corners lightly rubbed, spine labels a tiny bit chipped. Some light foxing and browning. Volume I with a few ink smudges on the verso of the title and on the first page of text and a printing flaw (slight ink smear to a few words) on pp. 258 and 259. A very good copy.
One of the last novels by Hofland, an extremely prolific - and moralistic - writer.
"The patient reader who has followed Mary [our princess] through her many trials, and, we trust, rejoiced in the development of her virtues as a daughter and sister, will not doubt that she became an exemplary as a wife, a mother, and a mistress " (p. 318).
Mrs. Barbara Hofland (1770-1844) “was the daughter of Robert Wreaks, a Sheffield manufacturer, who died when she was an infant. She was brought up by an aunt and in 1796 married T. Bradshawe Hoole, a merchant, by whom she had a son. Hoole’s death from consumption two years later left her wealthy but the money was subsequently lost through a bad investment, and she turned to writing. A volume of Poems (1805) attracted 2,000 subscribers, mainly out of sympathy. She opened a boarding school at Harrogate on the proceeds, and when this failed she began to write fiction. The History of a Clergyman’s Widow (1812) sold 17,000 copies in various editions. In 1808 she married the landscape painter Thomas Cristopher Hofland (1777-1843). The precariousness of an artist’s life together with Hofland’s natural improvidence and subsequent illness meant that she had to work even harder at her fiction. By 1824 she had produced upwards of twenty titles, the most successful of which, and probably her best, was The Son of a Genius , which drew on her experience of the artistic temperament and also on the emotional legacy of her son’s death from consumption. She followed it with The Daughter of a Genius (1823). She was a poplar as well as prolific writer although her fiction, which extended to nearly seventy works, was remorselessly didactic in tone. Towards the end of her career she turned out conventional Victorian three-deckers, including The Czarina (1842), The King’s Son (1843), The Unloved One (1844), and Daniel Dennison (1846). She was also an energetic journalist, having begun as early as 1795 with ‘Characteristics of Some Leading Inhabitants of Sheffield’, which she published in the Sheffield Courant. She expanded this vein later by contributing gossipy letters about London literary life to provincial newspapers. Her children’s books include both history and travel and, despite their moralizing, are attractive and readable. Hofland was a friend of Mary Russell Mitford” (The Oxford Companion to British Women Writers).
“[Mrs. Hofland’s] work for children includes imaginative textbooks (she centres both histories and travels on invented young people). Some simplified moral judgements apart, it is intelligent and readable. Depth and variety is added in adult works like Iwanowa, or The Maid of Moscow, 1813 (Richardsonian letters; clash of armies and cultures), Katherine, 1828 (delicate psychological analysis of misunderstandings in love), The Captives in India, 1834 (effective use of Eliza Fay), and The King’s Son, 1843 (fictional vindication of Richard III)” (The Feminist Companion to Literature in English).
Block, pp. 109-110. CBEL III, 734. CBEL (3) IV, 934. Not in Sadleir or in Wolff, who had only two of her works—The Captives in India, A Tale; and A Widow and a Will (1834) and A Season in Harrogate (1812).