August 12, 2008

Mrs Mortimer's Bigoted, Victorian English Neighborhood

So great. Favell Lee Mortimer was one of the best-selling children's book authors in 19th century England. Her first book, a sadistic-sounding Bible primer for toddlers titled, The Peep of Day; or, a Series of the Earliest Religious Instruction the Infant Mind is Capable of Receiving, sold over a million copies. She's credited with publishing the first flash cards. And even though she only left England like twice, she wrote travel and geography books covering the whole world that are awesome in their insane, flippant judgmentalism. Todd Pruzan collected some of Mortimer's greatest hits in a book, The Clumsiest People in Europe. And believe me, no one hits like a self-righteous Victorian dame on a roll. In an NPR story on Pruzan's book, they highlight a few tidbits:

On Poland: "You may go a great way without seeing anything pretty."

On Burma: "The Burmese are very deceitful and tell lies on every occasion. Indeed, they are not ashamed of their falsehoods."

And on her native country: "England, what country do you love best? Your own country. I know you do. Every child loves his own country best."

Read more of his excerpt, Mortimer excerpts, and more of her story at NPR

Books | 'The Clumsiest People in Europe' [npr.org via rosecrans at the nyt]

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