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Sarah Mary Fitton

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Filton, Sarah Mary (name thus in British Museum Catalogue; Sarah Margaret Fitton in Allibone) I Miss Fitton l, writer of children's stories and lesson books. An Englishwoman, long resident in Paris; dated several of her booklets from her Paris address: 15, Rue de la Ville l'Evêque. Described by Elizabeth Barrett Browning in two letters written from Paris, Dec. 1851, as "an elderly woman, shrewd and kind" and rich; "there seems to be a good deal in her"; numbered among her acquaintances or friends John Kenyan, the Carmichael-Smyths, and Eugene Sue (Letters of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, ed. Kenyan, II, 41; Letters of the Brownings to George Barrett, ed. Landis and Freeman, p. 158). Author of two books on botany: Conversations on Botany, 1817, a dialogue between Mother and her little son Edward; written, according to the Brit. Mus. Cat., with the assistance of Elizabeth Fitton; went through eight editions; and The Four Seasons, 1865, lectures written for the Working Men's Institute in Paris, dedicated by Miss Fitton to her "excellent old friend" Sir William Jackson Hooker. (Some paragraphs of Conversations appear practically verbatim in The Four Seasons.) Also wrote books on music: Conversations on Harmony, 1855, so well received that Miss Fitton brought out a French translation, 1857; and Little by Little, lessons in the art of reading music (no copy in Brit. Mus.). In addition, published in booklet form three stories for children: The Grateful Sparrow, Dicky Birds, and My Pretty Puss; and one story for adults, How I Became a Governess (reprinted from Good Words).



      The Office Book record for the one item assigned to Miss Fitton is confused. The contents of the number in which it appears are twice recorded; the first listing is placed in the wrong position chronologically and is marked out. In that listing "A Companionable Sparrow" [H.W. XVI, 130–32. Aug. 8, 1857] is assigned to Robertson. In the second listing, rightly recorded for Aug. 8, the item is again assigned to Robertson; his name is marked out and substituted by that of Miss Fitton; then, above the marked-out "Robertson" is written "Robertson &." Miss Fitton's authorship is established by her reprinting of the story [repr. as The Grateful Sparrow. A True Story [anon.]. London: Griffith and Farran, 1859. Pub. in H.W. acknowledged] and by her designating herself on the title pages of three of her later booklets as "Author of 'The Grateful Sparrow.'" Robertson may have done no more than send the item to H.W. from Paris; Miss Fitton was quite capable of writing it herself.
      The H.W. article "Mosses," Dec. 11, 1858, assigned in the Office Book to Robertson alone, transcribes practically verbatim from Miss Fitton's Conversations on Botany or from her Four Seasons (the transcribed passages are among those that appear in both books) what amounts to some fifty lines of the article. There is no acknowledgment to Miss Fitton as author.
      Miss Fitton may be author of "Boulogne Wood," July 25, 1857, assigned in the Office Book to "Robertson's friend." The ascription indicates that Robertson sent the item to H.W.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Brit. Mus. Cat.
 Author: Anne Lohrli; © University of Toronto Press, 1971 

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography [Fitton is listed with William Henry Fitton, her husband] 

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