Your next chance will be at the Cambridge Premier Book Fair on Friday and Saturday, February 16-17, where among the 60 exhibitors are John Underwood Antiquarian Books and Missing Books.
In among Underwood’s antiquarian stock of books and ephemera about unusual women he will take to the fair is an 18th century etching and some 15 pages about the life and times of Hannah Snell, priced at £55 (above).
Abandoned by her husband and following the death of their infant child, in 1745 Snell disguised herself as a man and later became a marine, fighting in a number of battles in India and being wounded 11 times.
She returned to England in 1750, petitioned the Duke of Cumberland, the head of the army, for a pension, sold her story, The Female Soldier, to a publisher, appeared on stage in her uniform performing military drills and had her portrait painted wearing her uniform.
Snell retired to Wapping to run a pub called The Female Warrior and was married twice more but died in Bethlem Hospital in 1792, aged 69.
Underwood also has for sale an early 19th century set of prints from original 17th century engravings, Celebrated Courtezans, priced at £295. Alongside each image is the sitter’s name and the price they charged for their services: “Lucy M-n… Gold a little Bitt,” and “Cy Sa…, street walker. What she can get.”
The original engravings were by the prolific 17th century Czech engraver Wenceslaus Hollar, who worked in England and sadly died in poverty, with his last recorded words being to the bailiff not to take the bed on which he was dying.
University language lesson
With Chris Missing of Missing Books* comes Gradus ad Cantabrigiam, a book of “colloquial or cant terms peculiar to the University of Cambridge”.
Missing says: “Some are strictly factual and some are more humorous. A few examples: ‘To take a Lounge: to saunter about the town in listless indolence. Raff: a dirty low, vulgar fellow; one whose vices are not the vices of a gentleman. Ale: the rapturous exclamation of a celebrated classic on receiving some dozens of Audit stout. All hail to the Ale, it sheds a halo round my head’.”
* As well as standing at PBFA’s events, antiquarian book dealer Chris Missing organises two long-running small out-of-print book fairs of his own. One is in the village of Elton, near Peterborough, the other is in Long Melford in East Anglia. The next Missing Book Fairs’ event is in Long Melford at the Memorial Hall on Saturday, March 3.