The hundred years prior to the mid-19th century saw a flowering of ephemeral publishing often referred to by the shorthand 'chapbooks'. This book is an analytical bibliography of the National Art Library's collection of literary ephemera of the period; that is histories, tales, verse collections, primers and alphabets. This publishing phenomenon is notoriously difficult to control bibliographically because few titles and editions have survived. Only a small proportion of survivals have been described in sufficient detail to differentiate for the purposes of study.Nearly 800 titles are described here in significant detail, to allow accurate comparison and verification with editions, variants and states in other collections. The pamphlets are visually very appealing with many illustrations, some hand-coloured in varying degrees of skill. Examples of illustrations from all the books described are reproduced here, providing a visual feast and resource. The book will appeal to all custodians of libraries and collections containing literary and educational ephemera. It will provide support for current research into literary studies and work on literacy and language development.
John Meriton is Librarian of the National Art Library and Deputy Keeper of the Word and Image Department,Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Carlo Dumontet is the Library's Special Collections Bibliographer.