“The Daisy” and its Communication Circuit

My research on The Daisy has led to an interesting communications circuit. First, when opening to the title page, there wasn’t much information on who the authors, printers, or publishers were. Instead, it just had the title of the book written in the middle of the page. Turning to the next page, on the left there was an advertisement for other popular children’s books printed by the same publishers. Each book had an introduction written by Charles Welsh, and the entire series could be bought for “5s” (see Additions post for more). To the right, there was what seemed to be an imprint. On it was the title of the book again, the illustrator (Samuel Williams), the edition number (31), and the publishers (Griffith, Farran, Okeden, and Welsh). While I could not find much on the publishers, I did find that they are from London, and they published other books similar to The Daisy (as expressed in the advertisement).


Following the imprint was a brief introduction that explained how this book came to existence. The introduction revealed that The Daisy was originally written by Elizabeth Turner around 1806, and was published by Benjamin Crosby. Turner wrote almost all of the 30 stories in the book, with her brother (Mr. Thos. Turner) having written five or six or them. When it came out, The Daisy was incredibly popular and Crosby had Turner write another almost immediately. The next book was called The Cowslip and was also a children’s book of cautionary stories.

In 1830, the book was republished with 30 mew illustrations by Samuel Williams. After this republication, the books began to become less popular, and according to the introduction (from what I understand), laid untouched at an “old-fashioned book shop” in London “at the corner of St. Paul’s Churchyard.”  St. Paul’s Churchyard was a church, but also a premier bookseller to all of England starting in the late 1400s, and remained open until it was bombe during World War II. St. Paul’s Churchyard worked a lot with foreign books and other foreign booksellers, which could explain how the book made its way to Boston in the late 1800s.

The introduction (also written by Charles Welsh, like the other books in the advertisement) provided some information as to how Williams came to be an illustrator in London in 1830. He was born into a poor family in 1788, and had an interest in drawing at a very young age. His father didn’t believe that the arts would give Williams a good living, so he had him apprentice with a printer in Colchester to learn a useful trade. After this apprenticeship was over, Williams moved to London. During his apprenticeship, Williams met Crosby (the original publisher) while doing print work, and had shown him his artwork. Crosby had Williams do some illustration work for him. Later, in 1830, Messrs Grant and Griffith commissioned Williams to illustrate the new publication of The Daisy. I’m not sure who Messrs Grant and Griffith are, and I couldn’t find much about them through my research, but I am led to assume that they are somehow related to the publishing, printing, or illustration parts of the communication circuit.

The introduction was added to this edition of the book because (republished in the 1880s), as seen on the advertisement page, this book is a facsimile reprint. In facsimile reprints, it is common to add an introduction that explains the history of the original book. Nothing else about the book is changed except for the fact that the book is newer and is better quality. I believe the introduction was added because Elizabeth Turner’s name was not included on the title page or on the imprint. The introduction did acknowledge her as the original author, giving her credit for her work. Since it was also written after Samuel Williams died, the Introduction is also giving him credit and telling his own personal history. In a sense, the Introduction allows for the memory of Elizabeth and Samuel to live on through the book.

Flipping to the end of the last story, there was a small line printed at the bottom of the page. This line read “Turnbull & Spears, Printers, Edinburgh.” Upon further research I found that Turnbull and Spears both printed and authored other stories together ranging from children’s stories to other religious texts. Finding this leads me to assume that the book was authored, illustrated, and published in London, but printed and put together in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The next stop on the communication circuit for The Daisy, is the bookseller. On the inside back cover, there is a small label in the bottom left corner. This label reads “W.B. Clarke & Co. Booksellers & Stationers, Boston.” W.B. Clarke and Co. had a few locations in the Boston area, but beyond that I could not find much more information. As stated above, this book was being sold at St. Paul’s Church yard, and they worked a lot with international books and book sellers. I assume that after its republication in the 1880s, that someone from Boston must have either been doing work with the British bookseller, or was looking for a book for their own personal collection. The Perry’s, our final stop on the circuit, were a literary family from New England, so it is possible that “Aunt Susan” was looking for a book to give T.S. and found The Daisy in a bookstore in Boston.

Miss Margaret Perry was the daughter of T.S. Perry. She became affiliated with Colby through her connect to Edwin Arlington Robinson. After her father died in 1928, she donated his collection to Colby, where it now lives in our Special Collections, concluding its communication circuit (for now).