The History of Sandford and Merton
  • Publication Date: November 13, 2009
  • ISBN: 9781551116280 / 1551116286
  • 480 pages; 8½" x 5½"

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The History of Sandford and Merton

  • Publication Date: November 13, 2009
  • ISBN: 9781551116280 / 1551116286
  • 480 pages; 8½" x 5½"

Among the earliest novels written about children, for children, The History of Sandford and Merton was enormously popular for a century and a half after its first publication in 1783–9. The novel is Enlightenment for beginners, offering a course of education in class, race, and gender to its six year-old protagonists, the robust farm-boy Harry Sandford and Tommy Merton, the spoiled boy from the big house. Sandford and Merton offers entertaining and practical lessons in manners, masculinity, and class politics.

This Broadview Edition includes the original illustrations, along with contemporary reviews and other material on childhood by John Locke, Thomas Day, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and others.


“Thomas Day’s The History of Sandford and Merton, one of the most interesting pioneering books in the history of children’s literature, has long been out of print and in need of a modern critical edition. This new edition of Sandford and Merton — with an illuminating introduction that locates the novel in its intellectual, cultural, and political contexts, indispensable footnotes, and a useful selection of contextual material in the appendices — is exactly what was wanted. I’ll now have to redesign my Children’s Literature course.” — Tom Furniss, University of Strathclyde

The History of Sandford and Merton is a key text in the history of children’s literature, education theory, the British novel, Enlightenment philosophy, and the culture of sensibility. This thoughtful, carefully researched, and accessible edition provides a much needed — and long missed — opportunity for reading and teaching in all of these areas. The story of two boys’ moral education, and especially of Tommy Merton’s transformation from spoiled child of luxury to vigorous, sensitive, and truly gentle man, is one that speaks to ongoing debates about class, education, cruelty, and moral character.” — Laura Stevens, University of Tulsa

Thomas Day: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text

The History of Sandford and Merton

Appendix A: Contemporary Reviews

  1. From The English Review (November 1783)
  2. From The Analytical Review
    (September–December 1789)

Appendix B: From John Locke, Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1752)

  1. Health, the Body, and Gender
  2. Rules and Practice
  3. Pain and Punishment
  4. Skills and Recreation

Appendix C: From Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Émile (1763)

  1. Books. From Book II
  2. Magnetism. From Book III
  3. Astronomy. From Book III
  4. Books. From Book III
  5. Female Education. From Book V

Appendix D: From Memoirs of Richard Lovell Edgeworth (1820)

  1. Meeting with Day
  2. Edgeworth and Day Travel to Ireland Together
  3. The Experiment with the Girls
  4. Day’s Letter to Edgeworth from Avignon, 1769
  5. Sabrina and Honora
  6. Day’s Death

Appendix E: Thomas Day and John Bicknell,
The Dying Negro (1793)

Appendix F: From Thomas Day, Fragment of an Original Letter
on the Slavery of the Negroes

Select Bibliography

Stephen Bending is a Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Southampton.

Stephen Bygrave is a Reader in English at the University of Southampton.