Mitton, G. E.

The Children's Book of Stars

  • Second edition of this charming children's book on astronomy, originally published the previous year, with unusual and attractive boards depicting constellations. The contents cover the solar system and Earth’s place in it, with chapters on the sun and planets, as well as objects such as meteors, stars and constellations, and larger astronomical structures such as star clusters and nebulae. There are illustrations throughout, including 11 colour plates.

    The author, Geraldine Mitton, was a novelist and author of non-fiction books on London, English regions, as well as a number of children’s books. She is perhaps best remembered for her 1905 biography, Jane Austen and Her Times, in which she “investigates ways Austen’s age shaped her outlook, and attempts to determine how she managed to escape becoming time-bound” (Mazzeno, Jane Austen: Two Centuries of Criticism, p. 31).

    Mitton was a friend of the popular astronomy author Agnes Clerke (1804-1907), who was awarded the Royal Institution’s Actonian prize for her writings and was made an honorary member of the Royal Astronomical Society. In the introduction, Mitton writes that, “Whatever merit there may be in the present work is due entirely to my friend Agnes Clerke, the well-known writer on astronomy; the faults are all my own. She gave me the impetus to begin by her warm encouragement, and she helped me to continue by hearing every chapter read as it was written, and by discussing its successor and making suggestions for it. Thus she heard the whole book in MS. A week after the last chapter had been read to her I started on a journey lasting many months, and while I was in the Far East the news reached me of her death, by which the world is the poorer”.

  • London: Adam and Charles Black, 1908. Octavo. Original blue cloth blocked in blue, white, and gilt with an attractive depiction of constellations on the upper board and the spine, top edge gilt, others untrimmed. Colour frontispiece and 16 plates of which 10 are in colour, engravings within the text. Gilt prize stamp of the London County Council to the lower board and corresponding bookplate. Light rubbing and some spots and marks to the cloth, spine a little darkened, endpapers tanned, spotting to edges of text block occasionally affecting the edges of the contents, small spot to title, a couple of leaves carelessly opened not affecting text. Very good condition.

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