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"Pleasant Days of My Childhood"
The evolution of a Catharine Parr Traill manuscript
Pearls and Pebbles (Toronto: Briggs, 1894) begins with a short chapter entitled "Pleasant Days of My Childhood." The Traill Family Collection (TFC) contains several versions of this sketch. Viewed together, they provide a record of its genesis and development.
Stage one: The piece first appears as an entry in Traill's journal (July 31, 1837) and is without a title. Her journal entry contains memories of May Day celebrations that Catharine shared with her sisters at Reydon Hall in Suffolk, England. She fondly recalls having been selected as Queen of May by her sisters. See TFC, volume 2: 3015-3018 (Traill's own hand); and TFC, volume 3: 3398-99 (Sara Eaton transcription)
Stage two: This manuscript in Thomas Traill's hand, now entitled "Memories of May," was likely copied for possible publication at some time in the 1850s (Thomas died in 1859). See TFC, volume 4: folder 1: 6846-58.
Stage three: A typescript entitled "Pleasant Days of My Childhood" includes corrections by Traill's grand-niece Mary Agnes FitzGibbon and by Edward Caswell, George Briggs's leading editor at the Methodist Book and Publishing House. This was part of the preparation for the typesetting of Pearls and Pebbles and can thus likely be dated at 1894. Mary Agnes prepared the text for the Briggs imprint with the professional help of Caswell. See TFC, volume 5, folder 21: 7365-7369.
Stage four: "Pleasant Days of My Childhood" is published as the first chapter of Pearls and Pebbles, pages 37-41.