1894. London: Macmillan and Co., 1894.
8vo, xvi, 395 pp., frontispiece, 4 plates, vignettes throughout. Discreet title page blindstamp “Presentation copy” lower right corner. Original dark green cloth, dark green endpapers, a.e.g., with pictorial decorations in gilt. Joints cracked, otherwise a very good, bright copy.
§ First edition thus of this scarce title; a previous collection of stories appeared in 1884 under the title Wide-Awake Stories. A notable collection, and one of the earliest in English of 43 Punjabi tales recounted by Steele (1847-1929), an indefatigable Englishwoman who spent 22 years in India. Through her resourcefulness and ability, she gained the trust of Indians who told her many local stories which had never before appeared in English. The beautiful illustrations are by John Lockwood Kipling, father of Rudyard, and Temple’s notes provide helpful historical and cultural information. The beautiful binding is a design of a peacock and jackal under a flowering tree, and reproduces one of Kipling’s illustrations. One of the rarest of the Cranford Series.
The Cranford Series proper consists of twenty-four illustrated volumes issued over a period of thirty-two years, 1876-1907, by Macmillan and Co. They are all crown 8vo; they all have edges
cut and gilt; they are all bound in smooth shiny cloth of a uniform dark shade of green; they all have the fronts and the spines of these bindings heavily stamped with gold designs.
It was not until seventeen years and the issue of a fifth volume that it was even recognized as a series, and then it took its name, not from its originator, Caldecott, nor from its first volume, Old
Christmas, but from its fourth volume, Cranford by Mrs. Gaskell, 1891. In 1892 when six new volumes were issued by the name of Cranford, the name was extended to the entire group,
including the three previous volumes. (See T. Balston, “The Cranford Series and Its Imitators”, pp. 186-88, The Bookman’s Journal, Vol. XII, No. 47 (New Series), August, 1925.
In addition to the twenty-four “Cranford” volumes, there are a dozen or more other volumes which are ‘derivatives,’ similar-looking volumes issued by other publishers, including Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner; George Allen’ and F. S. Ells; they are often mistaken for the Cranford series, but are not part of it. Item #124277