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John Newbery

John Newbery

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John Newbery was an English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 publisher of books who first made children's literature
Children's literature
Children's literature is for readers and listeners up to about age twelve; it is often defined in four different ways: books written by children, books written for children, books chosen by children, or books chosen for children. It is often illustrated. The term is used in senses which sometimes...

 a sustainable and profitable part of the literary market. He also supported and published the works of Christopher Smart
Christopher Smart
Christopher Smart , also known as "Kit Smart", "Kitty Smart", and "Jack Smart", was an English poet. He was a major contributor to two popular magazines and a friend to influential cultural icons like Samuel Johnson and Henry Fielding. Smart, a high church Anglican, was widely known throughout...

, Oliver Goldsmith
Oliver Goldsmith
Oliver Goldsmith was an Irish writer, poet and physician known for his novel The Vicar of Wakefield , his pastoral poem The Deserted Village , and his plays The Good-Natur'd Man and She Stoops to Conquer...

 and Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson , often referred to as Dr. Johnson, was an English author who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer...

. In honor of his achievements in children's publishing, the Newbery Medal
Newbery Medal
The John Newbery Medal is a literary award given by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association . The award is given to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. The award has been given since 1922. ...

 was named after him.

Early life


Newbery was born in 1713 to a farmer in Waltham St Lawrence, Berkshire
Berkshire
Berkshire is a historic county in the South of England. It is also often referred to as the Royal County of Berkshire because of the presence of the royal residence of Windsor Castle in the county; this usage, which dates to the 19th century at least, was recognised by the Queen in 1957, and...

. When he was younger he gave himself an education.
He was apprenticed to a local printer at the age of sixteen. In 1737 his master, William Carnan, died and left the business to him and Charles Carnan, William's brother. Two years later, he married William Carnan's widow, Jordan Mary.
He was known to have created the first children's books.

Publishing career


By 1740 he had started publishing books in Reading, Berkshire
Reading, Berkshire
Reading is a large town and unitary authority area in England. It is located in the Thames Valley at the confluence of the River Thames and River Kennet, and on both the Great Western Main Line railway and the M4 motorway, some west of London....

; his first two publications were an edition of Richard Allestree
Richard Allestree
Richard Allestree or Allestry was a Royalist churchman and provost of Eton College from 1665.-Life:The son of Robert Allestree, descended from an old Derbyshire family, he was born at Uppington in Shropshire. He was educated at Coventry and later at Christ Church, Oxford, under Richard Busby...

's The Whole Duty of Man
The Whole Duty of Man
The Whole Duty of Man is an English Protestant devotional work, first published anonymously, with an introduction by Henry Hammond, in 1658. It was both popular and influential for two centuries, in the Anglican tradition it helped to define...

and Miscellaneous Works Serious and Humerous [sic] In Verse and Prose. In 1743, Newbery left Reading, putting his stepson John Carnan in charge of his business there, and established a shop in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, first at the Bible and Crown near Devereux Court and then at the Bible and Sun at 65 St. Paul's Churchyard. The first book he published there was A Little Pretty Pocket-Book
A Little Pretty Pocket-Book
A Little Pretty Pocket-Book, intended for the Amusement of Little Master Tommy and Pretty Miss Polly with Two Letters from Jack the Giant Killer is the title of a 1744 children's book by British publisher John Newbery. It is generally considered the first children's book, and consists of simple...

in 1744. This book has sometimes been called the "first children's book"; while other children's books by Thomas Boreman and Thomas and Mary Cooper had been published previously, A Little Pretty Pocket-Book is the first in Newbery's successful line of children's books. It already contains all of the hallmarks of a Newbery book. In developing his particular brand of children's literature, Newbery borrowed techniques from other publishers, such as binding his books in Dutch floral paper and advertising his other products and books within the stories he wrote or commissioned. Newbery's firm published children's stories, ABC books, children's novels and children's magazines; his children's books constituted about one-fifth of the five hundred books he published.

Newbery, it seems, both hired authors to write his books and wrote himself. Scholars have speculated that Oliver Goldsmith
Oliver Goldsmith
Oliver Goldsmith was an Irish writer, poet and physician known for his novel The Vicar of Wakefield , his pastoral poem The Deserted Village , and his plays The Good-Natur'd Man and She Stoops to Conquer...

or Giles and Griffith Jones wrote one of Newbery's best-selling stories, The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes
The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes
The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes is a little children's story published by John Newbery in London in 1765. The story popularized the phrase "goody two-shoes", often used to describe an excessively virtuous person.-Plot:...

. This was Newbery's most popular book, going through 29 editions between 1765 and 1800.

Newbery published a compilation of English rhymes, Mother Goose's Melody, or, Sonnets for the Cradle (London, undated, c.1765), which switched the focus from fairy tales to nursery rhymes.

Newbery also published a series of books written by "Tom Telescope" that were wildly popular, going through seven editions between 1761 and 1787 alone. These were based on the emerging science of the day and consisted of a series of lectures given by a boy, Tom Telescope. The most famous is entitled The Newtonian System of Philosophy Adapted to the Capacities of Young Gentlemen and Ladies.

Newbery accrued most of his fortune from his patent and sales of Dr. Robert James
Robert James (physician)
Robert James was an English physician who is best known as the author of A Medicinal Dictionary, as the inventor of a popular "fever powder", and as a friend of Samuel Johnson.-Life:...

's Fever Powder, a medicine which claimed to cure the gout, rheumatism, scrofula, scurvy, leprosy, and distemper in cattle. This product became successful due in part to Newbery's advertisements for it in his literature. In Goody Two-Shoes, the heroine's father dies because he was "seized with a violent fever in a place where Dr. James Fever Powder was not to be had."

Newbery themes


Locke had written that "children may be cozened into a knowledge of the letters; be taught to read, without perceiving it to be anything but a sport, and play themselves into that which others are whipped for." He also suggested that picture books be created for children. Locke also argued that children should be considered "reasoning beings." Newbery acted upon these suggestions. He also made his books relative cheap, charging only sixpence for A Little Pretty Pocket-Book, eightpence with a ball or pincushion. The book was a hodge-podge of information and games, including riddles and advice on a proper diet, but its primary message was "learn your lessons ... and one day you will ride in a coach and six." "In Newbery's universe work is always rewarded and altruism pays dividends as reliably as Isaac Newton's laws of motion."

Newbery's tales seem painfully didactic today, but were popular and enjoyed by children of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Most of his stories concern a virtuous orphan who works hard (or is "industrious"), and therefore eventually becomes prosperous. They draw the world as a meritocracy where a child rises or falls on his or her character. Furthermore, many of the stories tell the life of the orphan from childhood to adulthood to illustrate rewards and punishments associated with "good" and "bad" behaviour.

Legacy


His son Francis, his nephew Francis and Francis's wife Elizabeth and his grandson Francis Power continued the business after his death.

In 1922, the Newbery Medal
Newbery Medal
The John Newbery Medal is a literary award given by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association . The award is given to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. The award has been given since 1922. ...

 was created in his honour; it is awarded each year to the best children's book published in the United States.

Bestselling Newbery books


According to the New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature (NCBEL 2.120), Newbery "wrote, wholly or partly" and "edited or materially influenced" the following works:
  • Goose's Melody (1791) (A. H. Bullen's 1904 facsimile) by John Newbery, Isaiah Thomas, and William Henry Whitmore
  • A Little Pretty Pocket-Book
    A Little Pretty Pocket-Book
    A Little Pretty Pocket-Book, intended for the Amusement of Little Master Tommy and Pretty Miss Polly with Two Letters from Jack the Giant Killer is the title of a 1744 children's book by British publisher John Newbery. It is generally considered the first children's book, and consists of simple...

    (1744) by M. F. Thwaite and John Newbery
  • The Newtonian System of Philosophy (1761) by Tom Telescope, John Newbery, and Oliver Goldsmith
  • The Renowned History of Giles Gingerbread (1764)
  • The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes
    The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes
    The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes is a little children's story published by John Newbery in London in 1765. The story popularized the phrase "goody two-shoes", often used to describe an excessively virtuous person.-Plot:...

    (1765) by John Newbery (perhaps written with Oliver Goldsmith
    Oliver Goldsmith
    Oliver Goldsmith was an Irish writer, poet and physician known for his novel The Vicar of Wakefield , his pastoral poem The Deserted Village , and his plays The Good-Natur'd Man and She Stoops to Conquer...

    )
  • The Entertaining History of Tommy Gingerbread a Little Boy who Lived Upon Learning by John Newbery