Introduction: And in This Book There Are Many Houses
For more than two hundred years, if mentioned at all, Visits to the Juvenile Library has been a marginal book, at best a historical curiosity. Yet it is the book on which I’ve built The Children’s Book Business, partly because of another book, a recent book, published in 1990: Benjamin Tabart’s Juvenile Library: A Bibliography of Books for Children Published, Written, Edited and Sold by Mr. Tabart, 1801-1820, by Marjorie Moon. Although a meticulous, lovingly detailed annotated account of the books in Tabart’s bookshop, Moon’s book is not for the general reader as it is not a novel and has no plot. It is a reference book, intended for librarians or literary scholars with interests in the fi elds of children’s book and book-publishing history. Moon’s book, however, provided the catalyst for mine. The Children’s Book Business was born out of the union of Fenwick’s 1805 novel, Visits to the Juvenile Library, and Marjorie
Moon’s 1990 bibliography, Benjamin Tabart’s Juvenile Library. Taken together, the two books allowed me to access to the social and cultural contexts of the period, and opened up the possibility of examining writers and readers of the late Enlightenment, as well as the consumer culture and the pedagogical and political principles that shaped those writers and readers.