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Mitford Story Centers on Cricket, Touches on Juvenile Baseball

Salience Noteworthy
Tags English Base Ball, Famous, Females, Fiction
City/State/Country: England
Game Base Ball, Cricket
Immediacy of Report Contemporary
Age of Players Juvenile

"Then comes a sun burnt gipsy of six . . . . her longing eyes fixed on a game of baseball at the corner of the green till she reaches the cottage door . . . . So the world wags until ten; then the little damsel gets admission to the charity school, her thoughts now fixed on button-holes and spelling-books those ensigns of promotion; despising dirt and baseball, and all their joys."



From "Jack Hatch," taken from the Village Sketches of Mary Russell Mitford, The Albion: A Journal of News, Politics, and Literature September 9 1828, volume 7, page 65.



This item was originally dated 1828, and adjusted to 1825 in 2020. For some details, see Supplemental Text below.


Submitted by Bill Wagner 6/4/2006 and by David Ball 6/4/2006. David explains further: "The title character is first introduced as a cricketer, 'Jack Hatch the best cricketer in the parish, in the county, in the country!' The narrator hears tell of this wonder, who turns out to be a paragon of all the skills but is never able to meet him in person, finally hearing that he has died. Mitford treats cricket (with tongue admittedly somewhat in cheek) as an epic contest in which the honor of two communities is at stake. In the opening, very loosely connected section, on the other hand, baseball is described as a child's game, to be put away early in life."



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Submitted by Bill Wagner, David Ball, David Block


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In September 2020, David Block advised: "This story appeared in several publications prior to 1828. There is a handwritten copy sent from Mitford to her publisher, Ackerman, in the collection of the Houghton Library. I believe this story first appeared in print in late 1825:

[] 1. Jan. 9, 1825 Mitford sends her handwritten story to publisher Ackemann.
[] 2. Ackerman publishes it in the fall of 1825 among his annual collection of stories and poems from various writers entitled “Forget Me Not for 1826.”
[] 3. It subsequently appears in numerous other publications as well as in Volume II of  Our Village, 1826.