New England Primer

(2402 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

The New-England Primer taught American Puritans how to read. Comprised of doctrinal lessons, tales of martyrdom, rudimentary spelling aids, and patriotic rhyme, this “little Bible of New England” went through three hundred editions between the late seventeenth and early nineteenth centuries, with an estimated three to eight million copies in circulation throughout colonial New England and the United Kingdom (Fessenden 36). The text’s simple register and rhyme scheme secured its position in American letters: nineteenth-century reports exist in which lines from the Primer are quoted, erroneously, as scripture, while famous children’s prayers such as “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep” were first …

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Wakely-Mulroney, Katherine. "New England Primer". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 31 January 2013
[, accessed 29 November 2015.]

Related Groups

  1. Children's Literature