authentic Jane 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 – 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. August 2014: FINALLY! A COMPLETE set of Sense and Sensibility, 1811 printing! Volume I of Pride and Prejudice is still missing. Check out my new find of Eighteenth-Century Book Tracker.

Sense and Sensibility
the first edition first found October 2009

*1811 edition vol. I; vol. II; vol. III
NEW: *1811 edition at Internet Archive: vol. I; vol. II; vol. III and via 18th-Century Book Tracker
*1833 Bentley edition (   (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)

          *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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