A Story about Man’s Best Friend from 1800: James Manners, Little John and their Dog Bluff

“Dogs are honest creatures,/ Ne’er betray their masters,/ Nor fawn on those they love not.” Cotsen 83689.

This unsigned wood engraving of a Newfoundland dog greeting his favorite person was used on page 25 of Elizabeth’s Sommerville’s James Manners, Little John, and their Dog Bluff. 2nd ed. (London: Printed for the proprietors and sold by Darton and Harvey and E. Newbery, 1801).

At the beginning there was no love lost between Bluff, the story’s dog-hero, and his boy James. When the dog walked past him, James hurled a stick at it, which caused the angry animal to grab him by the calf.  James might have been badly hurt if his foster brother John, a local farmer’s son, had not recognized the dog as  Farmer Giles’s Bluff. Confident that the dog was not dangerous, John pried open its jaws and freed James.  This was not the first time that John proved a good friend to James, but James could not treat him as such because of his acute consciousness of their difference in social class. Bluff’s fidelity, on the other hand,was always welcome.

Used to always having his way, James never took his lessons seriously, developed a taste for spirits, and the habit of gambling quite young because he was heir to a fortune and therefore entitled to indulge himself. His father died when James was twenty and within months he was defrauded of his inheritance by professional London card sharks.  With no money in his pockets, he was obliged to return home on foot.  Nearly at his destination,  James loses his way in the dark, not realizing the danger he is in. His old friend Bluff catches his scent and fetches foster brother John to his rescue. This time, James does not waste the opportunity to remake his life.

James Manners, Little John, and their Dog Bluff was the first children’s book written by Elizabeth Somerville, the daughter of author and translator Elizabeth Helme.  She tried to capitalize on her mother’s reputation by publishing her early works under the pseudonym “Elizabeth Helme, jun.”  Her father negotiated the sale of this manuscript and its copyright in 1797 to Darton & Harvey for six pounds six shillings and one hundred and twenty five bound copies. While Somerville’s moral tale never achieved the popularity of Edward Augustus Kendall’s Keeper’s Travels (1799), it is still an interesting for its depiction of a loyal, sagacious dog.

Moving Day in Feather Town: Ann and Henry Martin’s Manuscript for a Picture Book


Front wrapper, in process item 6540798

To celebrate the very early end of our recent department-wide collections move, we thought it would be fun to post about an item from the collection that’s all about moving.

Moving Day in Feather Town (1989) is a heart-warming picture book written by Ann M. Martin and illustrated by her father Henry Martin about two chickens, Fran and Emma, who decide to switch houses.

Ann’s name might sound familiar because she’s the author of the first 35 novels of the beloved “Baby-Sitters Club” series and the 2003 Newbery Medal award winner, A Corner of the Universe.  Henry Martin is one of the famous New Yorker cartoonists and creator of a long running comic strip “Good News/Bad News,” among other things.  Perhaps less known is that Ann happens to be a Princeton native and Henry a member of the Princeton University class of ’48 and donor to the Graphic Arts collection in Special Collections.

The Princeton connection  explains why the Illustrator very kindly gifted his original artwork for the book to the Cotsen collection. So today I can not only show you some of the highlights of this story, I can showcase aspects of the production of the work as well.

Original artwork for the front wrapper

Original artwork for the front wrapper, Item 6540798, (notice the addition of a blue background to the published work)

The story Begins with a frustrated Fran and Emma waking up in their respective homes:

Page spread of [1] and [2]

Page spread of [1] and [2]

They’re both so envious of the other’s house and just sick of their boring old places!So they have they a great idea: swap houses!

And they both get excited and packed up and ready to move. But before long they both get cold feet. Unfortunately, neither has the heart to admit it to their friend. So they both decide to go through with it instead, on the day of the big parade no less:

Page [8]

And with heavy hearts, and all the items in the house packed away, each prepares her respective final act in the home:

Page [12]

Page [12]

But much to their mutual excitement, the two moving chicken friends get caught in the very parade they thought they’d miss. They even run into each other during the festivities:

Page spread of [18] and [19]

Page spread of [18] and [19]

Page spread of [18] and [19] galley (Notice how the original boarders have been clipped during production)

Page spread of [18] and [19] original artwork (Notice the absence of text and how the original boarders have been clipped during production)

Unfortunately they run into each other a little too literally and disaster strikes:

Page [19]

Page [20]

Page [19] original artwork

Page [20] original artwork

After all the commotion and confusion the pair are distraught and fear that they will never be allowed to join the parade again. Emma finally admits that she doesn’t want to move, and Fran is relieved at feeling the same. The friends part in happiness and return to their original houses:

Page [23]

Well so much for Fran and Emma’s move . . . but it all worked out in the end!

Our move to new vault space in Firestone Library, on the other hand, was much more necessary and much more efficiently handled. Not one crash!

***We’d like to thank the hard work and dedication of the CDTF team (you know who you are) and the Clancy-Cullen movers for doing such a great job.