[MORE, Hannah]. Cœlebs in Search of a Wife. Comprehending Observations on domestic Habits and Manners, Religion and Morals … The second Edition. In two Volumes …
London: Printed for T. Cadell and W. Davies … 1809.  
2 vols, 8vo (193 × 119 mm), pp. ix, [1], 413, [1]; [2], 426; some light offsetting and spotting in places, contemporary red half calf with marbled paper sides, marbled edges, gilt lettering-piece to spine, rubbed, spine a little sunned; ownership signature of J. Bowdler to front flyleaf of each volume, and with presentation inscription (‘From the Author’) to front flyleaf of vol. I.
Second edition (first 1808) of More’s only novel, ‘a parable about marriage that More specifically wrote for “the subscribers to the circulating library” as an alternative to the romantic novels usually on offer’ (Oxford DNB). ‘It enjoyed great success in England and America, but attracted censure from the Pope’s Vicar-General for its treatment of Roman Catholicism. The popularity of the work was such that by her own account ten impressions were sold in the first six months. She subsequently sold 21,000 copies of it in the British Isles, and 30,000 in America during her lifetime’ (M. J. Crossley Evans, Hannah More, Bristol Branch of the Historical Association Local History Pamphlets, p. 15).

The recipient here is one of two men, father and son, either John Bowdler (1746–1823), ‘an outspoken and stern moralist and fierce critic of the social and moral ills of contemporary society’, or perhaps more likely his son, likewise John (1783–1815), a prominent member of the Clapham sect (Oxford DNB). More was also acquainted with his sister, Henrietta; another brother, Thomas, became notorious for his expurgated edition of Shakespeare (whence ‘bowdlerize’).
Garside, Raven & Schöwerling 1808: 81n.
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