Conversations on Chemistry: In which the Elements of that Science are Familiarly Explained, and Illustrated by Experiments, and Thirty-Eight Engavings on Wood

[MARCET, Jane]

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Though John L. Comstock's name appears on the title page, this book is actually the work of popular English science writer Jane Marcet (1769-1858). Though Comstock (1789-1958), a Connecticut physician and schoolteacher, wrote several books on chemistry, geology, and botany, he apparently plagiarized Marcet's work of the same name. Marcet's book was apparently often plagiarized in the United States, due to there being no international copyright laws at that time, and at least 23 American editions are known. How much Comstock may have added or amended is not clear. The first clue the book was really written by a female is the Preface which identifies "the author, herself a woman" (p. iv), without giving her name. The text consists of conversations between a fictional teacher, Mrs. Bryant, and students named Emily and Caroline. While Emily is a serious student, Caroline is rather flippant, making remarks such as "To confess the truth, Mrs. B., I am not disposed to form a very favorable idea of Chemistry, nor do I expect to derive much entertainment from it" (p. 13). Of course, Caroline soon changes her mind.

Publication Info

  • Publisher: John Beach
  • Edition: Fifteenth American edition, from the last London edition, with additions and corrections
  • Date Published: 1836
  • Place Published: Hartford
  • ISBN: n/a


  • Condition: Very good
  • Signed: No
  • Dust Jacket: No
  • Jacket Condition: n/a
  • Details:
    xii, 13-356 p. 19 cm. 44 b&w figures, altogether. Full leather with some slight cracking to hinges at spine ends, worn corners, soiled boards. Dampstains to endpapers, tops of first pages and in margins of p. 309 onwards. Ink signature on a front page and small ink marks p. 160. Foxed endpapers. Tear in p. 77. Most pages clean and white.