First Editions

Anthony Tedeschi

Notes from a talk given at the National Library Wellington, Saturday, 20 August 2016

Sense and Sensibility (1811); first edition

Binding: Originally published in blue-grey paper boards or, rarer, pink paper boards; a publishers’ or trade binding, bound as issued and often temporary in nature as buyers typically had their books bound to suit their tastes or the fashion of the time.

First version written ca. 1795 in form of letters
NB. Elinor and Marianne are never parted, not even for a day, so between whom were these letters circulating?

Novel in present form begun November 1797 and in press by 1809–1810 (Austen’s first year residence at Chawton)

Published in three volumes: Why three?
During the 18th century the novel’s physical form was varied, i.e. might be published in one or two volumes, or even three or more
By early 19th century the form began to standardise to three volumes at 5s per volume
S&S = 15s with a suggested edition size of 750 to 1,000 copies

No part of the Manuscript (MS) has survived

Alexander Turnbull Library copy: Bound in 19th-century ¼-calf with marbled boards
Early ownership inscription on title-pages ‘Isabella Baker 1813’

Mysteries of Udolpho, Anne Radcliffe (1794); first edition
Published in four volumes and originally sold for £1 in boards
Radcliffe offered £500 by the publisher
Udolpho a favourite of the protagonist Catherine Morland

Northanger Abbey and Persuasion (1818); first edition

Published together posthumously with Henry Austen’s biographical preface of his sister; four volumes (two volumes per novel) in blue-grey paper boards

NA written about the years 1798 and 1799; C. S. Emden suggested a first version may have been written in 1794

P date of composition August 1815; first draft completed July 1816

Price 24s with an edition size of 1,750 copies; sold rapidly
Profit to Austen’s heirs of over £453

Copies exported to Australia, 1821

Scrap of NA MS survives; held by Pierpont Museum and Library
Final two chapters of P survive; held by British Library

ATL copy: Bound in 19th-century ¼-morocco with marbled boards
Turnbull’s bookplate

Pride and Prejudice (1894); Peacock edition

160 line drawings by Hugh Thomson, which were reproduced or became the basis for subsequent illustrated editions

Work began autumn 1893 and final version published October 1894

Over 11,600 copies sold by the following year; 25,000 copies sold by 1907

Popularity = Reprinted in 1895 and through to 1906

Thomson (1860–1920), Irish illustrator
One of the most popular Victorian illustrators; worked on editions of all Austen’s novels, but the Peacock edition of P&P remains his best known work

Letters edited by Lord Brabourne (1894); first edition in two volumes

Brabourne the son of Austen’s niece Fanny Knight; letters passed to him upon his mother’s death in 1882

Edition included 84 letters by Austen, but the published versions were heavily expurgated with some letters having entire passages or pages removed

Deirdre Le Faye has shown that Brabourne wished to reproduce the letters faithfully, but was overruled by his publishers, Bentley & Son

Why censored?
Passages seen as ‘offensive’ to Victorian sensibilities, e.g. ‘physical appearances, pregnancies, details of illness, course humour’ etc. were deleted [Peter Sabor, Censorship: A World Encyclopaedia, p. 130)

Austen wrote an estimated 3,000 letters; 160 survive or are known

Reference for publication descriptions
Geoffrey Keynes, Jane Austen: A Bibliography (New York, 1968)


One thought on “First Editions

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s