UCB Libraries




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Sarah Waring: The Minstrelsy of the Woods; or, Sketches and Songs connected with the Natural History of some of the most interesting British and Foreign Birds. London : Harvey & Darton, 1832. WPRP 394.


Written by naturalist Sarah Waring to educate children on ornithology, this book is dedicated to the author’s “beloved young relatives.”Following a dedication poem and a brief introduction, the text is divided according to order of bird, with sections devoted to Acciptres, Passeres, Scansores, Gallinae, Grallae, and Palmipedes. Interspersed amongst the prose are numerous poems, each one devoted to a single bird.


Illustrations abound within this volume, most notably the wood-engraved nightingale on the frontispiece. The wood engraving process is a relief printing process similar to that of woodblock printing, save for the use of different carving tools and different types and cuts of wood. Perfected by Thomas Bewick in the late 18th century, wood engraving made printing image and text together more efficient and less expensive (Benson). Waring’s text makes numerous references to Bewick, who was an ornithologist as well as a wood engraver. Amongst other influences, her introduction cites Bewick’s “entertaining volumes” as a source for her work, presumably in reference to The History of British Birds (1797–1804). As for the nightingale itself, it was a favored bird of the Romantics, most famously featured in JohnKeat’s “Ode to a Nightingale.”


Book contents and notes.


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