Be Merry and Wise. He! He! He!

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Tommy Trapwit, Be Merry and [Wise], or, The Cream of the Jests, and the Marrow of Maxims, for the Conduct of Life: Published for the Use of All Good Little Boys and Girls. The first Worcester edition. (Worcester: Printed by Isaiah Thomas, 1786). Sinclair Hamilton Collection of American Illustrated Books (GAX) Hamilton 107s
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In 1770, the children’s book Be Merry and Wise was published by Carnan and Newbery at no. 65 in St. Paul’s Church-yard in the City of London. A copy sold for six-pence and the frontispiece showed a picture of a young boy reading a book. John Newbery (1713-1767) had begun publishing books in 1740 and moved it to central London around 1743. After Newbery’s death, his son Francis and his stepson Thomas Carnan continued the business.

The American printer Isaiah Thomas (1749 -1831) set up his press in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he published more than 900 books. Thomas decided to bring Newbery’s books to the United States and simply began printing copies. There was no payment to the London firm or mention of copyright. The same year he released Tom Thumb (1838-1883), A Bag of Nuts Ready Cracked, or, Instructive Fables, Ingenious Riddles, and Merry Conundrums; and the following year The History of Little Goody Twoshoes and The History of Master Jackey and Miss Harriot, among many others.

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See also Carnan and Newbery’s edition of Be Merry and Wise, (CTSN) Eng18 / Newbery 5359