A GREAT RARITY: FIRST EDITION OF KATE DOUGLAS WIGGIN'S FIRST BOOK, THE STORY OF PATSY, ORIGINALLY SOLD FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE SCHOOL SHE CO-FOUNDED, CALIFORNIA'S FIRST FREE KINDERGARTEN
WIGGIN, Kate Douglas, under her maiden name SMITH, Kate Douglas. The Story of Patsy. San Francisco: C.A. Murdock, 1883. Slim 12mo, original printed paper wrappers; pp. 27. Housed in a custom cloth chemise and slipcase. $4500.
Rare first edition of the author's first book, a fundraising tool for the kindergarten she founded, Silver Street Kindergarten, California's first free kindergarten.
As the author of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Kate Douglas Wiggin is often considered one of the finest American children's authors. Wiggin has been lauded frequently for her deep understanding of children and their inner lives, insight she likely gained from her time as a teacher. In fact, Wiggin established America's first free Kindergarten, the New Silver Street Kindergarten. Her efforts were so successful, that she co-founded a Kindergarten teaching school with her sister. This book, The Story of Patsy, was sold as a fundraiser for Wiggin's Kindergarten. Explaining her motivations, Wiggin wrote about the need to replenish the school's coffers and stated her desire to "take in more of the babies waiting so wistfully in the back street." She later wrote, "I was far too close to the life I was picturing to make this book wholly worthy of its subject. I am well aware that it lacks perspective, and that it has more heart than art, but… how many girls read and flew to the nearest training school!… It was not published, only privately printed, bound in a paper cover, and sold here and there for 25 cents for the benefit of the cause." Wiggin eventually left the Kindergarten—as was expected at the time—following her marriage to a New York businessman. Thereafter, she established a reputation as a prominent children's writer and education advocate, redirecting her knowledge and experience. Nevertheless, preliminary hints of Wiggin's writerly talents were clearly on display in this work, Wiggin's first book. First edition, without edition statement by publishers on page 2. The first commercial publication of this book was by Houghton Mifflin in 1889. Pencil owner gift inscription. Morocco bookplate in chemise.
Interior generally fine, only light rubbing and soiling to fragile wrappers. A nearly fine copy of this great rarity.