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Such Constant Affectionate Care

Such Constant Affectionate Care: Lady Charlotte Finch -- Royal Governess & the Children of George III by Jill Shefrin. Los Angeles: Cotsen Occasional Press, 2003.

Color photographs, illustrations, and reproductions. Taking as its starting point the set of sixteen dissected maps belonging to the children of George III and recently acquired by the Cotsen Children's Library, Princeton University, this work examines the new trends in education exemplified by the practices of the royal nursery and its governess, Lady Charlotte Finch.

The author establishes a relationship between Lady Charlotte and Mme Le Prince de Beaumont, the French governess and author of the Magasin des Enfans (1756). Le Prince de Beaumont is newly identified as the first person to be selling dissected maps, or cartographical jigsaw puzzles, several years before the map seller John Spilsbury. The educational environment in which the royal children played with their educational toys is recreated from a wide range of contemporary sources. Locating these dissected maps within the domestic context of the royal household allows a re-examination of the historiography of the use and development of educational toys.

The discussion ranges over new trends in educational theory and practice including the evolution of rational domesticity and the increasing involvement of aristocratic mothers in the care and education of their children. The influence of Mme Le Prince de Beaumont, and Lady Charlotte's upbringing and her place within a circle of intellectual women are examined. A bibliographical history of the individual puzzles is included, as is the delightful text of the Prologues and Epilogues to the 1732 children's performance of Dryden's Indian Emperor, in which Lady Charlotte and her siblings performed and which was recorded by William Hogarth in his painting of The Conquest of Mexico, Act IV, Scene IV, from Dryden's Indian Emperor. The text is reproduced, together with the painting, at the end of the work.

"This volume is an important contribution to the origins of dissected maps in England, and a useful supplement to the author’s earlier work on Spilsbury." Map Forum (Issue 1, Spring 2004).

"... a visual delight... Jill Shefrin has produced an enjoyable and unusual book of cultural history... deal[ing] with broad trends in family life (pedagogy, the education of women, and the workings of hierarchy and patronage) and illuminat[ing] them through domestic detail, through unpublished texts, letters by and about children, and through surviving toys and educational games." University of Toronto Quarterly (74, 1, Winter 2004/5).

About the author:
Jill Shefrin is a scholar in the field of early children's books and games and the history of education. Her research focuses on the role of 18th- and 19th-century games and pastimes in the history of education and childhood. She is currently preparing a descriptive bibliography and historical study and contextualization of the games and other educational aids published by the London firm of Darton between 1787-1876. She has lectured and published on games and other aspects of early children's literature and the education of children, and was for many years a librarian with the Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books, Toronto Public Library. She is currently a Research Associate of Trinity College, University of Toronto.

 Available for purchase from the Cotsen Children's Library or online at Oak Knoll