- The Governess, or The Little Female Academy
"The Governess, of The Little Female Academy" (published 1749) by
Sarah Fieldingis the first full-length novel written for children, [Fielding, Sarah (with an introduction and bibliography by Jill E. Grey). 1749, 1968. "The Governess or, The Little Female Academy". Oxford University Press, London. 375 pages.] and a significant work of children's literature of the 18th century. [Carpenter, H. and M. Prichard. 1984. "The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature", Oxford University Press, Oxford and New York.]
In her preface, the author says:quote|My young Readers, Before you begin the following Sheets, I beg you will stop a Moment at this Preface, to consider with me, what is the true Use of Reading; and if you can once fix this Truth in your Minds, namely, that the true Use of Books is to make you wiser and better, you will then have both Profit and Pleasure from what you read.
One Thing quite necessary to make any Instructions that come either from your Governors, or your Books, of any Use to you, is to attend with Desire of Learning, and not to be apt to fansy yourselves too wise to be taught. For this Spirit will keep you ignorant as long as you live, and you will be like the Birds in the following Fable:::"The "Mag-pye" alone, of all the Birds, had the Art of building a Nest, the Form of which was with a covering over Head, and only a small Hole to creep out at.—The rest of the Birds, being without Houses, desired the "Pye" to teach them how to build one.—A Day is appointed, and they all meet.—The "Pye" then says, "You must lay two Sticks across, thus."—"Aye, says the "Crow", I thought that was the way to begin.—Then lay a Feather, or a Bit of Moss.&mdashCertainly, says the "Jack-Daw", I knew that must follow.—Then place more Sticks, Straws, Feathers and Moss, in such a manner as this.—Aye, without doubt, cries the "Starling", that must necessarily follow; any one could tell how to do that." ...quote|The Reason these foolish Birds never knew how to build more than half a Nest, was, that instead of trying to learn what the "Pye" told them, they would boast of knowing more already than he could teach them: And this same Fate will certainly attend all those, who had rather please themselves with the Vanity of fansying they are already wise, than take Pains to become so.
But take care, that instead of being really humble in your own Hearts, you do not, by a fansied Humility, run into an Error of the other Extreme, and say that you are incapable of understanding it at all; and therefore, for Laziness, and sooner than take any Pains, fit yourselves down contented to be ignorant, and think, by confessing your Ignorance, to make full Amends for your Folly. This is being as contemptible as the "Owl" who hates the Light of the Sun; and therefore often makes Use of the Power he has, of drawing a Film over his Eyes, to keep himself in his beloved Darkness.
*Bree, Linda. "Sarah Fielding". Boston: Twayne, 1996.
*Bundan, Judith. "Girls Must Be Seen and Heard: Domestic Surveillance in Sarah Fielding's "The Governess". "Children's Literature Association Quarterly" 19.1 (1994): 8-14.
*Downs-Miers, Deborah. "For Betty and the Little Female Academy: A Book of Their Own". "Children's Literature Association Quarterly" 10.1 (1985): 30-33.
*Fielding, Sarah. "The Governess; or, The Little Female Academy". Ed. Candace Ward. Peterborough: Broadview Editions, 2005. ISBN 1551114127.
*Suzuki, Mika. "The Little Female Academy" and "The Governess". "Women's Writing" 1.3 (1994): 325-39.
*Wilner, Arlene Fish. "Education and Ideology in Sarah Fielding's "The Governess". "Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture" 24 (1995): 307-27.
* [http://www.gutenberg.org/browse/authors/f#a747 "The Governess, or The Little Female Academy"] at
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