Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Umphelby, Fanny
UMPHELBY, FANNY (1788–1852), author of ‘The Child's Guide to Knowledge,’ was born in Knowles's Court in the parish of St. Mary Magdalen, Old Fish Street, Doctors' Commons, in 1788. She lived for many years at Leatherhead, and died at Bow on 9 April 1852. In 1825 Miss Umphelby published ‘The Child's Guide to Knowledge, … by a Lady.’ The work became at once a standard book; a second edition appeared in 1828, and it is now (1899) in its fifty-eighth edition. Miss Umphelby also wrote and published ‘A Guide to Jewish History.’ ‘“The Child's Guide to Knowledge,” which came to teachers and pupils of the present century as a warmly welcomed novelty, was in truth on the plan of the ‘Elucidarium’ attributed to Lanfranc [q. v.], but differed from it in form, in so far as the information is extracted from the pupil, not from the teacher. … None of the new productions could rival in success “The Child's Guide to Knowledge.” The old idea of the “colloquy,” and the old plan of a book on the properties of things, were here revived and welcomed in the schoolroom’ (Field, The Child and his Book). The authorship of ‘The Child's Guide’ has been frequently attributed to Miss Umphelby's sister, wife of Robert Ward; but Miss Umphelby composed all of it. To later editions about eighty pages were added by her nephew, Mr. Robert A. Ward of Maidenhead, to keep the information up to date.