Fiction > Susanna Haswell Rowson > Charlotte Temple: A Tale of Truth
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Susanna Haswell Rowson (1762–1824).  Charlotte Temple: A Tale of Truth.  1905.
 
Historical and Biographical Introduction
VII. A Contribution to a Bibliography
 
BELOW will be found a list of such editions of “Charlotte Temple” as have become known to me while the present edition was in preparation. Altho it contains one hundred and four editions, the list is still incomplete. It may serve, however, as a beginning for some future bibliography more worthy of the name, and with that hope it is given here. As it stands, the list probably does not contain more than three-fourths of the extant titles and imprints.  1
  Copies of the book are not plentiful anywhere, mainly because it has been issued in small and perishable forms. In the Astor and Lenox branches of the New York Public Library may be found eleven old editions. Several of these came to the library as a gift in recent years, 1 and some are curious, but none is earlier than 1811. In the British Museum, altho the book has often been reprinted in England, only five editions are preserved. None of these is the first, and four have American imprints. The first American edition (1794) may turn up at auction once in several years, but not oftener; while the first English edition, published four years earlier, seems to be quite unknown in this country.  2
  A search for copies of the book has been made in libraries other than the New York Public and the British Museum. After consulting some twoscore printed catalogs, English as well as American, five libraries out of the forty were found which had one edition each, and two others which had two editions. These copies, added to the eleven in the New York Public, and the five in the British Museum, give a total of only twenty-six copies of the book. With two exceptions the editions found were fifty or more years old, a circumstance which is to be accounted for by the almost general absence in later times of new editions bound in something better than cheap paper.  3
  On going to the sales catalogs of important private libraries, no better results were accomplished. At the Astor nearly two hundred catalogs, embracing the most notable sales of thirty years, were consulted, but the number of copies found in them was only eight. This of course merely shows that “Charlotte Temple” has not been a collectors’ book. But who shall say it might not have been, had collectors known the excessive and increasing rarity of early editions.  4
  Nor does one fare better when he makes a tour of the little second-hand shops. Here in the outdoor stalls may be found cheap, and often well-worn, paper editions, but rarely can one discover in the stalls or inside the door an edition, new or old, in leather, boards, or cloth—forms once so common, but now rapidly disappearing off the face of the earth. Some fifty of these shops exist in the Manhattan Borough of New York. The proprietor of each was asked if he had the book. 2 Exclusive of cheap paper editions, nine copies were thus discovered.  5
  What is true of New York is also true of other cities. A large house in Cincinnati, in reply to an inquiry, wrote: “We have not, nor can we find in any of the second-hand shops of this city, an old edition of ‘Charlotte Temple,’ either in cloth or paper.” No copy could be obtained from a Washington dealer, and none from Albany, while from a large second-hand Philadelphia house only one was secured, and from Boston only two.  6
  Roorbach’s “Bibliotheca Americana,” covering the period 1820 to 1855, names only two editions, and Sabin’s list, altho the longest heretofore printed, enumerates only sixteen. 3 In the Publishers’ Weekly, the trade organ of American publishers and booksellers, an advertisement has brought to light three copies. In the Saturday Review of Books, published by the New York Times, readers who had copies of the book were asked to send descriptions of them, the result being the discovery of nineteen copies in private hands.  7
  Such, then, are the fruits of a systematic search for a book which Sabin describes as “the most popular romance of its generation.” Mrs. Rowson’s first biographer, Mr. Knapp, writing in 1828, said: “Three sets of stereotype plates are at present sending forth their innumerable series of editions in different parts of the country,” while Joseph T. Buckingham, in his “Personal Memoirs,” published in 1852, describes it as having had “the most extensive sale of any work of the kind published in this country.” Trübner, in his “Bibliographical Guide to American Literature,” published in 1859, describes the popularity of the book in this country and England as being quite as remarkable as that of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” and attributes it to a similar cause—“its appeal to the softer feelings of our nature.” He adds that “many of the scenes are quite as ably described.”  8
  Considering all the circumstances, the subjoined list, incomplete tho it be in the number of editions named, and often very inadequate in the descriptions, may have interest, as I have already said, as a beginning for a bibliography.  9
 
1790–1825

CHARLOTTE: A Tale of Truth. By Mrs. Rowson. London, 1790.
  * THE FIRST EDITION. The date 1790 is usually given, but has not been confirmed.

CHARLOTTE: A Tale of Truth. By Mrs. Rowson, of the New Theatre, Philadelphia, author of “Victoria,” “The Inquisitor,” “Fille de Chambre,” etc. Two volumes bound as one. 16mo, pp. viii.—9–87, 83. Philadelphia. Printed by D. Humphreys for M. Carey, 1794.
  * THE FIRST AMERICAN EDITION, of which the present edition, as to text, is a careful reprint. In the same year Mr. Carey issued an American edition of “The Inquisitor.”

——— Two volumes in one. 16mo, pp. vi.—7–169. Second Philadelphia edition. Philadelphia. Mathew Carey, October 9, 1794.
  * The date of this edition, October 9, 1794, shows that it was called for soon after the publication of the first, which had probably come out in April, some advertisements by Mr. Carey in the end pages of that edition being dated April 17, 1794.

CHARLOTTE TEMPLE: A Tale of Truth. By Mrs. Rowson, late of the New Theater, etc. Two volumes in one. 12mo, calf, pp. 202 (the final pages missing). Third American edition. Philadelphia. Mathew Carey, 1797.
  * It is to be noted that in this, the third American edition, the title had been changed from “Charlotte” to “Charlotte Temple,” and that in 1797 Mrs. Rowson had ceased to be connected with the New Theater of Philadelphia.

THE HISTORY OF CHARLOTTE TEMPLE. Founded on Fact. By Mrs. Rowson. Two volumes in one. 18mo, pp. 142. Hartford, Conn., 1801.
  * Apparently an unauthorized edition, since the title is changed in a way not afterward followed except in a few isolated instances.

CHARLOTTE TEMPLE: A Tale of Truth. By Mrs. Rowson. Fifth American edition. Two volumes in one. 16mo, pp. 205. Harrisburg, Pa. M. Carey, 1802.

——— Alexandria [Va.?], 1802.

——— Two volumes in one, 12mo, pp. 168. New York, 1803.

THE HISTORY OF CHARLOTTE TEMPLE: A Tale of Truth. By Mrs. Rowson. Two volumes in one. 12mo. Catskill. Printed by N. Eliot for H. Steel. Hudson, 1808.

CHARLOTTE TEMPLE: A Tale of Truth. By Mrs. Rowson. Two volumes in one. 24mo, calf, pp. 137. Portrait. Philadelphia. M. Carey, 1809.

THE HISTORY OF CHARLOTTE TEMPLE: A Tale of Truth. By Mrs. Rowson. Two volumes in one. 24mo, pp. 143. Increase Cooke & Co., 1811.
  * Has frontispiece showing a woman leaning against a tombstone.

CHARLOTTE TEMPLE: A Tale of Truth. By Mrs. Rowson. 18mo, pp. 175. Windsor, Vt. Merrifield, 1812.

——— Two volumes in one. Wooden boards. 24mo, pp. 180. Eighth American edition. Brattleborough, Vt. William Fessenden, 1813.

THE HISTORY OF CHARLOTTE TEMPLE: Founded on Fact. By Mrs. Rowson. Two volumes in one. 16mo. New York, 1814.

THE HISTORY OF CHARLOTTE TEMPLE: Founded on Fact. By Mrs. Rowson. Two volumes in one. Half roan, 16mo, pp. 168. New York. Samuel A. Burtus, 1814.
  * Possibly this edition and the preceding are the same. The inference, however, does not necessarily follow. In one or two other instances at least “Charlotte Temple” was issued without a publisher’s name on the title-page.

CHARLOTTE TEMPLE: A Tale of Truth. By Mrs. Rowson. 16mo, half roan. New York. S. A. Burtus, 1814.
  * It will be observed here that Mr. Burtus issued two editions of the book in one year—each having a different title.

——— 24mo, boards, pp. 106. Vignette portrait. New York. Evert Duyckinck, 1814.
  * From the above items it appears that in 1814 at least three publishers in New York were issuing the book. The type of the Duyckinck edition is very small and the paper flimsy.

——— 18mo, pp. 168. Windsor, Vt. Merrifield, 1815.

——— 12mo, pp. 177. Windsor, Vt. P. Merrifield, 1815.

——— 24mo, boards, pp. 175. Windsor. Preston Merrifield, 1815.
  * Mr. Merrifield appears to have issued three editions in 1815, as indicated by the variations in the size and number of the pages, and in the forms in which his name is given. Of all the early editions, his are now the most common.

——— Two volumes in one. 16mo, pp. 132, boards. Concord, N. H. Isaac and Walter B. Hill, 1815.

CHARLOTTE TEMPLE: A Tale of Truth, By Mrs. Rowson. 18mo. Brookfield, Mass., 1816.

——— 16mo. New Haven, 1818.

——— 16mo, boards.
  * Apparently a very early edition, of which a copy is in the Astor Library, but it has no title-page.

——— 12mo. Philadelphia. [n. d.]
  * Apparently early.

——— 24mo, pp. 138.
  * An early edition. A copy is in the Society Library, with no title-page. Has a woodcut frontispiece showing Charlotte and Montraville returning to the school at night.

——— 12mo, pp. 152. R. D. Rider. Wallop, Hants, England, 1821.

——— 18mo. Philadelphia. [n. d.]
  * Apparently early.
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1825–1850

CHARLOTTE TEMPLE: A Tale of Truth. By Mrs. Rowson. 24mo, boards, pp. 176. New York. A. Spooner, printer, 1826.

——— 18mo, boards, pp. 144. Philadelphia. John Grigg, 1826.

——— 18mo, half calf, pp. 138. New York. R. Hobbs, 1827.
  * Has the frontispiece showing the arrival at Portsmouth and an engraved title, vignetted. In type, paper, and binding the best of all the early editions here described.

——— 16mo. Hartford, Conn., 1827.

CHARLOTTE’S DAUGHTER; OR, THE THREE ORPHANS. A sequel to “Charlotte Temple.” Prefaced by a memoir of the author. [By Samuel L. Knapp.] 12mo, boards, pp. 184. Boston. Richardson & Lord, 1828.
  * THE FIRST EDITION. Often reprinted, and still to be had in cheap paper editions, with the memoir omitted and the title changed to “Lucy Temple.”

CHARLOTTE TEMPLE: A Tale of Truth. By Mrs. Rowson. 18mo, pp. 138. New York. George C. Sickles, 1829.
  * Has a frontispiece showing the arrival at Portsmouth, reproduced elsewhere in this edition, and a decorative title-page with vignette.

——— 18mo, boards, pp. 138. New York. George C. Sickles, 1830.
  * A reissue of the preceding.

——— 24mo, pp. 138. New York. John Lomax, 1830.

——— 18mo, boards, pp. 138. New York. John Lomax, 1831.
  * Has a frontispiece showing Montraville and Julia Franklin entering a church to be married, the picture being repeated on the cover.

——— 18mo, pp. 138. New York. John Lomax, 1832.

——— Two volumes in one. 18mo, pp. 168. Printed by Lazarus Beach for J. Harrison, S. Stephens, C. Flanagan, N. Judah, D. Smith, S. J. Langdon. New York. [n. d.]

——— 24mo, half roan, boards, pp. 138. Hartford, Ct. Andrus & Judd, 1833.

——— [Text in French]. Paris. [About 1835].

DIE GETÄUSCHTE. Ein Gemälde aus dem Wirklichen Leben nach dem Englishen (Charlotte Temple) Der Mrs. Rowson. Von Dr. J. G. Flügel. Octavo. Leipzig, 1835.

CHARLOTTE TEMPLE: A Tale of Truth. By Mrs. Rowson. 8vo. Leipzig, 1835.

——— 24mo, pp. 148. New York. Nafis & Cornish. [n. d.]

——— St. Louis, Mo. Nafis, Cornish & Co. [n. d.]

——— 18mo. Cornish, L. & Co. [n. d.]

——— Two volumes in one. 16mo. New York. H. M. Griffith. [n. d.]

——— Two volumes in one. 12mo. New York. Printed by John Swain for H. M. Griffith. [n. d.]
  * Possibly the same edition as the preceding. A copy, bound by William Matthews in calf gilt, was sold with the library of Theodore Irwin, in 1897.

——— 8vo. New York. John Swain. [n. d.]

——— 12mo, pp. 186. New York. John Swain. [n. d.]
  * From being a printer, Mr. Swain appears to have become a publisher on his own account.

——— 18mo, boards, pp. 138. Hartford. Judd, Loomis & Co., 1837.

——— 18mo, pp. 140. New York. N. C. Nafis, 1840.
  * Has a frontispiece showing Charlotte’s grave in Trinity Churchyard, the stone standing upright, and inscribed “C. T.,” with a willow tree drooping over it, and a vignette on the title-page.

——— Cincinnati. [n. d.]

——— 24mo, London. [n. d.]

——— 18mo, pp. 140, frontispiece. Philadelphia. John B. Perry, 1840 (?).

——— 18mo, pp. 138. Ithaca, N. Y. Mack, Andrus & Woodruff, 1841.

——— 24mo, cloth, pp. 125. Illustrated. New York. R. Hobbs, 1842.
  * Has two illustrations on steel—“The Interview of Charlotte with Montraville” and “Charlotte in the Garden.” A frontispiece has apparently been torn out. “Charlotte in the Garden” was intended to illustrate the discovery by Mrs. Beauchamp of Charlotte at her Chatham Square home while she was singing the lines beginning
        “Thou glorious orb supremely bright.”
We are shown a stone, or marble, pavement and balustrade, a pedestal surmounted by an urn, a distant prospect of mountains, and another pedestal and urn at the foot of a stairway, Charlotte, with bowed head, being seated amid these garden splendors, which at that period probably did not exist anywhere in America—least of all in Chatham Square.

——— 8vo, pp. 60. Boston. Skinner & Blanchard, 1845.

——— 24mo, paper, pp. 139, frontispiece. Cincinnati. U. P. James. [n. d.]

——— 18mo, pp. 138. Ithaca, N. Y. Mack, Andrus & Co., 1846.

——— 12mo. London, 1849.
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1850–1875

CHARLOTTE TEMPLE: A Tale of Truth. By Susanna Rowson. 18mo, boards, pp. 140. New York. Richard Marsh, 1851.
  * Has the same frontispiece and vignette as the Nafis edition of 1840.

——— 18mo, boards, pp. 140. Philadelphia. William A. Leary & Co., 1851.
  * From the same plates as the preceding.

——— 24mo, pp. 165. cloth. New York. Leavitt & Allen, 1853.

CHARLOTTE TEMPLE: A Tale of Truth. By Susanna Rowson. 24mo, boards, pp. 165. Portrait. Philadelphia. Fisher & Bros., 1853.
  * Besides the frontispiece portrait, the cover has another portrait, showing a different face and costume, and printed in colors.

——— 24mo, boards, pp. 165. Portrait. Baltimore. Fisher & Denison, 1853.

——— 24mo, boards, pp. 165. Portrait. New York. Fisher, 1853.

——— 24mo, boards, pp. 165. Portrait. Boston. Fisher, 1853.
  * This and the three preceding editions appear to have been printed from the same plates, or from duplicate sets, as the custom apparently then was with publishers, and as it had been twenty-five years earlier.

——— 18mo. New York. 1853.

LOVE AND ROMANCE: CHARLOTTE AND LUCY TEMPLE. By Susannah Rowson. Two volumes in one. 12mo, pp. 129. Philadelphia. Leary and Getz, 1854.

——— 18mo, pp. 133. Ithaca, N. Y. Andrus, Gauntlett & Co., 1855.

——— 18mo. New York. [n. d.]

——— 24mo, pp. 165. New York. Leavitt & Allen. [About 1860.]

——— 24mo, cloth, pp. 165. New York. Leavitt & Allen Bros. [n. d.]

——— 18mo. New York. 1864.

CHARLOTTE TEMPLE: The Lamentable History of the Beautiful and Accomplished, with an account of her elopement with Lieutenant Montroville [sic], and her misfortunes and painful sufferings are here pathetically depicted. 8vo, paper, with an appendix, pp. 59. Illustrated. Philadelphia. Barclay & Co., 1865.
  * Already described.

CHARLOTTE TEMPLE: A Tale of Truth. By Mrs. Rowson. 1874.
  * Mentioned by Caroline H. Dall as having a large sale, but “wretchedly printed.”

LOVE AND ROMANCE: CHARLOTTE AND LUCY TEMPLE. By Susanna Rowson. 16mo, cloth. Two volumes in one. pp. 119, 129. Philadelphia. Lippincott, 1874.
  * Though printed from small type, this is the best edition of those issued since 1855. It contains the Preface signed S. R., but the signature and the title, “Love and Romance,” were never used by the author.

——— Two volumes in one. 12mo, cloth, pp. 119, 129. New York. Hurst. [n. d.]
  * Printed from the same text plates as the preceding, but on larger paper, with a two-line border.

CHARLOTTE AND LUCY TEMPLE. By Susannah Rowson. 24mo, vi., 5–254, frontispiece and vignette. London. [About 1875.]
  12
 
1875–1905

CHARLOTTE TEMPLE: A Tale of Truth. By Mrs. Susannah Rawson [sic]. 12mo, pp. 190. New York. Lupton, 1876 (?).

——— 16mo, paper, pp. 98. New York. Munro. [n. d.]
  * Printed from small type, with a portrait on the cover.

——— 18mo, boards. New York. Fisher, 1880.

CHARLOTTE AND LUCY TEMPLE. By Mrs. Rowson. 16mo. Philadelphia. Lippincott, 1881.

CHARLOTTE TEMPLE: A Tale of Truth. By Mrs. Rowson. Quarto. New York. Ogilvie, 1881.

——— 8vo, paper. Philadelphia. Barclay, 1883.

CHARLOTTE TEMPLE: A Tale of Truth. By Mrs. Rowson. [German text.] 8vo, paper. Philadelphia. Barclay, 1883.

——— 16mo, paper. New York. Lovell, 1884.

——— Quarto, paper. New York. Munro, 1884.

——— 12mo, paper. New York. Munro, 1884.

——— 12mo, paper, pp. 119. New York. Munro, 1894.

——— Paper. New York. Optimus, 1894.

——— 12mo, pp. 119. New York. Munro. [n. d.]

——— 12mo, paper, pp. 135. New York. Hurst [n. d.]

CHARLOTTE AND LUCY TEMPLE. By Susannah Rowson. Two volumes in one. 12mo, paper, pp. 119. New York. Ogilvie. [n. d.]

——— 24mo, cloth, pp. vi., 5–254, frontispiece and vignette. London. Milner & Co. [n. d.]
  * The binding of the copy examined is recent, but the text plates and illustration seem to have been made about thirty years ago.

CHARLOTTE TEMPLE: A Tale of Truth. By Mrs. Rowson. 12mo, paper, pp. 190. Chicago. Conkey. [n. d.]

——— 12mo, paper, pp. 135. New York. Hurst, 1892.

——— 18mo, cloth. New York. Optimus. [n. d.]

——— 12mo, cloth. New York. Federal Book Co. [n. d.]

——— 24mo, cloth, pp. 259, frontispiece. Philadelphia. Altemus. [n. d.]

——— 24mo, half vellum, pp. 259, frontispiece. Philadelphia. Altemus. [n. d.]
  * Same plates as preceding, the text extremely corrupt.

——— 12mo, paper, pp. 119. New York. Ogilvie. [n. d.]

CHARLOTTE TEMPLE: A Tale of Truth. By Mrs. Rowson. 18mo, paper. New York. Federal Book Co. [n. d.]
  * Of the cheap paper editions here named as published during the period 1875–1905, all but two seem now to be out of print. The others, in well-worn condition, may from time to time be picked up in the little shops of tenement districts.

——— 12mo, cloth. Two volumes in one. With an Historical and Biographical Introduction, Bibliography, and Foot-Notes by Francis W. Halsey. Seventeen illustrations, pp. cix., 137–150. New York and London. Funk & Wagnalls Co., 1905.
  * Reprinted from the First American Edition of 1794. Over 1200 errors corrected, and the author’s Preface restored.
  13
 
  From these one hundred and four editions, not to name others known to have been printed, it seems safe to conclude that few works of fiction have ever appeared in so many and such diverse forms, or in forms so perishable. “Charlotte Temple,” in this sense, rises almost to a place with “The Vicar of Wakefield” or “Robinson Crusoe.”  14
  While the popularity of the book down to the present day cannot be questioned, and gives no evidence of declining, it is a popularity which has not brought its name into the lists, either of best selling books or of books most called for in libraries. During the period covered by these researches, many well-read men and women were asked if they had ever read “Charlotte Temple.” Nearly all knew about the tombstone in Trinity churchyard, and in general they had some notion of Charlotte’s story, but that was all. On a Sixth Avenue surface car, however, and on a railway train bound for Chicago, during the same period were observed two young women reading paper editions with close attention.  15
  Again and again have small dealers, with stalls in front areas and on sidewalks, assured me that “Charlotte Temple” was one of their most active books. “Ten sales a week,” said a man in Harlem. “My order is always for a hundred copies,” said another in lower Sixth Avenue. “I am always selling that book,” said a third on the East Side, “and it’s a shame there has never been decent edition of it.”  16
  Obviously the readers who have been patronizing these small dealers are not responsible for those questions-and-answers which regularly and at frequent intervals for many years have appeared in the newspapers and periodicals in regard to “Charlotte Temple.” These questions have rather come from the ill-informed among people really bookish, to whom, at least in the present generation, has been denied all knowledge of a book which, if it has not shared in the greatest literary fame, has at least participated in the greatest literary notoriety, of the past one hundred and fifteen years.  17
 
Note 1. With the Gordon L. Ford collection, given by Mr. Ford’s sons, Worthington C. and Paul Leicester Ford. [back]
Note 2. One bookseller, to whom an inquiry by mail was addressed, made the following reply: “Please explain to me in Jewish what Charlotte Temple, and then I will see what I can do for you. I can’t find out what it means.” Had he been looking for a place of religious worship or for a building devoted to Free Masonry? [back]
Note 3. “Dictionary of Books Relating to America.” By Joseph Sabin. [back]
 
 
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