Austen On the Block! ~ Northanger Abbey and Persuasion 1st edition

Auction Alert! 

Christie’s Sale 5334: Valuable Printed Books and Manuscripts
13 June 2012, London, King Street

Lot 169: 

Austen, Jane.  Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. With a Biographical Notice of the Author [by Henry Austen].London: C. Rowarth [vols I-II], and T. Davison [vols III- IV] for John Murray, 1818 [but ca. 20 December 1817].

Estimate: £5,000 – £8,000  ($7,975 – $12,760) Price Realized: £5,625 ($8,696)


4 volumes, 12° (172 x 103mm). (Some light spotting, without half-titles in vols. II-IV and final blanks P7-8 in vol. IV.) Near contemporary half calf over marbled boards by J. Seacome, Chester, with his yellow or pink ticket in each volume, flat gilt spines divided by greek key rolls between double fillets, and with red morocco lettering-pieces in two compartments (extremities lightly rubbed, spine heads slightly chipped, minor paper loss to one cover). Provenance: Jane Panton (early inscriptions on all titles, trimmed by binder) — Bernard Quaritch, bookseller (pencilled collation note at the end of vol. I).

FIRST EDITION OF BOTH NOVELS IN AN EARLY 19TH-CENTURY BINDING BY J. SEACOME OF CHESTER. According to the author’s sister, Cassandra, Northanger Abbey was written in the years 1798-1799, although it has been suggested ‘a first version may have been written as early as 1794’ (Gilson, p. 82). This gentle parody* of the gothic novel represents her style in its earliest public form. Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, though earlier in origin, were far more drastically revised before publication. In 1803 she had sold the novel then entitled Susan, to Richard Crosby and Son, a London publisher, for £10. When it failed to appear after six years, she asked Mr Crosby for information, to be told that he was under no obligation to publish it, and that she could have it back for the amount he had paid her. The novelist waited until 1816 to accept the offer, but despite preparing the manuscript for publication once more, and changing the title from Susan to Catherine, still held it back. As a result, it only appeared posthumously with Persuasion in December 1817, the eventual title possibly supplied by Henry Austen. Persuasion, her last novel, was begun on 8 August 1815 and completed a year later. The two works were printed in varying specimens of Caslon Pica roman, and published by John Murray in an edition of 1750 copies. Gilson A9; Keynes 9 (collation corrected by 1931 errata); Sadleir 62e. (4)


  • Text and image from the Christie’s website
  • Click here for the full sale catalogue: there is a Dickens (David Copperfield) and also three works by Humphry Repton, who was read by Jane Austen:

Lot 119: REPTON, Humphry (1752-1818). Observations on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening.London: T. Bensley for J. Taylor, 1803.

Estimate: £4,000 – £6,000 ($6,380 – $9,570)


FIRST EDITION OF REPTON’S ‘MOST IMPORTANT WORK’ (RIBA). Repton’s second treatise reflects the increasing refinement of his theories on landscape and architecture, and answers the criticisms of Uvedale Price and Payne Knight. ‘Perhaps [Repton’s] most significant and influential publication overall’ (Archer). It contains information from several ‘Red Books’ now lost. Abbey, Scenery, 390; Archer 279.1; RIBA 2734 (second edition); Tooley 399.

The other two Repton works are:

Lot 118: REPTON, Humphry (1752-1818). Sketches and Hints on Landscape Gardening.London: W. Bulmer and Co., for J. & J. Boydell, [1795]. Estimate  £8,000 – £12,000 ($12,760 – $19,140)

Lot 120: REPTON, Humphry (1752-1818) & John Adey REPTON (1775-1860). Fragments on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening. Including some remarks on Grecian and Gothic Architecture.London: T. Bensley & Son for J. Taylor, 1816. Estimate: £6,000 – £9,000 ($9,570 – $14,355)


*Would you call Northanger Abbey “a gentle parody”?

Copyright @2012 Jane Austen in Vermont