This title from the Early Irish Fiction series presents us with a selection of children’s stories published between 1765 and 1808. With an excellent introduction by editor Anne Markey, the book includes three tales: John Carey’s Learning Better than House and Land; Lady Mount Cashell’s Stories of Old Daniel; or, Tales of Wonder and Delight and various versions of Henry Brooke’s fable of the three little fishes from The Fool of Quality; or, The History of Henry, Earl of Moreland. This is an extremely timely and important publication as it makes a valuable contribution to studies in Irish children’s literature and, in turn, to studies in eighteenth century Irish literature more generally.
The selected writings from these three authors offer an insight into the varying ways in which much literature of the period was engaged in the struggle for young people’s minds, particularly in terms of the construction of narrative voice for the child reader. John Carey’s tale follows the lives and differing experiences of two young boys, Dick and Harry (yes, there’s also a father called Thomas) and demonstrates in no uncertain terms that diligence, hard work, and goodness will be rewarded. However, not trusting that the child reader will fully understand the moral, Carey places a note at the end, just to reiterate the point. Read more