Alphabet books


  • Intro

    Books to teach children their ABC were very popular in the 19th century. They first appeared in English at least two centuries earlier, and built on an established tradition of simpler teaching aids such as hornbooks. John Harris of London was among the publishers who strove to create colourful and imaginative alphabet books aimed at the growing middle-class market.



    On these pages


    Each page of The Paragon of Alphabets is dedicated to a different letter. The combination of alliterative headings such as Wandering Willy, rhyming couplets relevant to childhood experiences and coloured illustrations were designed to appeal to children. A middle-class education would have included Greek, so Xenophon (the ancient philosopher) would have been a less obscure figure than today.


    Shelfmark: Ch.800/111.(7.).

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