authentic austen

As Gentle Readers of this blog might guess, anything ‘authentic’ is of great interest, so what better to present than the first and early editions of JANE AUSTEN novels. I love books.google.com – though they make it very difficult to find all volumes of multi-volume sets, and sometimes pages are missing or out of sequence. Those below with ‘complete’ were (when last perused!) all present and accounted for. Volume I of Pride and Prejudice and volume III of Sense and Sensibility are still (July 2012) missing.

Sense and Sensibility
the first edition just found, October 2009 (missing vol. III though…; let’s hope all the pages are present in the others)

*1811 edition vol. I; vol. II; vol. III
*1833 Bentley edition (books.google.com)   (complete)

Pride and Prejudice
          *1813 edition vol. I; vol. II; vol. III   (vol. 2 & 3: complete)

Mansfield Park
          *1814 edition vol. I; vol. II; vol. III   (all: complete)
          *1816 (2nd) edition vol. I; vol. II; vol. III   (all: complete)

Emma
          *1816 edition vol. I; vol. II; vol. III   (all: complete)

Northanger Abbey & Persuasion
          *1818 edition vol. I (inc: biographical notice); vol. II; vol. III; vol. IV 
            (vol. 2 & 4: complete)

Seeing these lovely volumes, it is so easy to imagine Emma, Edward, and Mary sitting by the fireside, enjoying Edward’s acknowledged ability to read aloud well: ‘as to tone of voice, manner, taste, and judgment. Nothing was wanted in his rendering either of light or of serious authors. When the subject was dramatic he could always make the characters, to use his Aunt Jane’s expression, “speak as they should do”.’ So wrote Emma and Edward’s daughter, Mary Augusta, in 1911.

Eliza Chute, who had known Edward Austen Leigh since he was a boy, had this to say about him when she heard of Emma’s marriage plans (quoted in the same biography): Edward ‘certainly is a very agreeable companion, cheerful, lively, animated, ready to converse, willing to read out loud, never in the way and just enough of poetry and romance to please me…’

So brew a cup of tea, grab a tin of tea biscuits, and settle in for a cozy read of a Jane Austen first edition.

Jane Austen’s letters, in the Brabourne edition, at Internet Archive: vol. I; vol. II.

View a few letters owned by the Pierpont Morgan Library & Museum on their online exhibition for “A Woman’s Wit: Jane Austen’s Life and Legacy”. An important portion is the Thaw Conservation Center‘s discussion of paper, pens and watermarks. Don’t miss it!

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