Mrs Sherwood and the Black Library

  • 16 Jan 2012
  • Historical Studies
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Mrs .Sherwood who kept a school at Lower Wick, was the daughter of the Rev. George Butt, Rector of Stanford and vicar of Clifton-on- Teme from 1771 onwards. In early Victorian days she was the most celebrated author of children's books. When she was only seven an event occured which left an abiding memory with her. Many years later she described it:

'About the same time an event, to me of vast delight and importance, occured. This was the sale of the old libary which belonged to Mr. Walsh of Abberly Lodge. Such was the illiterate turn of my age in my youth in that county, that few attended this sale, and none of the old books were bid for.  To look at the externals of these ancient times, they were not by any means inviting; yet they had a charm for my father, notwithstanding the blackness of their binding; he therefore bid for them, and as many as filled a wagon were knocked down to him for one guine. He came home all exultation - only one guinea for a wagon load of books!; But my mother, who loved neatness, was by no means so well pleased. My father's study was already littered enough, and what an importation of moths, dust and black calf-skin was this ! She meditated, however, and a low room of considable size, over a pantery and store room, was appointed by her for this accession of literature; at the same time a wagon and team was sent off to bring the purchase home. This little room was henceforth called the 'Black Library', and therefore my father received his treasures, and here I was permitted to go every day to help him rummage and sort his books,