Collecting Jane Austen: Macdonald Illustrated Classics, illus by Philip Gough

So I am back from an RV trek up north – finally able to get to Vermont and visit with family and friends – almost SEVEN weeks with no stable or reliable internet connection on any given day – and I actually survived the deprivation. Thankfully Trooper was not writing his usual journal of this trip [ https://trooperslog.wordpress.com/  ] so did not need to be uploading all his commentary and pictures every day.

But now back home with access to my shelves and resuming posts on “Collecting Jane Austen” with a short post on one of my favorite sets of Jane Austen’s novels: The Macdonald Illustrated Classics (London, 1948-61), with illustrations by Philip Gough and introductions by various scholars for four of the six volumes.

I have written about this set before, and so direct you to that blog that focused mostly on Gough’s illustrations for Mansfield Park: https://janeausteninvermont.blog/2014/12/30/jane-austens-mansfield-park-in-pictures-the-illustrations-of-philip-gough/

I’ll repeat here the description of the set:

When Macdonald & Co. (London) published its first volume of Jane Austen’s work in 1948, Emma was the chosen work, with Philip Gough as illustrator. It was the 4thvolume in the Macdonald Illustrated Classics series. It is a small book, under 8 inches, bound in red leatherette, with a frontispiece and seven other full-page plates of watercolor drawings by Gough. There is no introduction. Macdonald published its next Jane Austen novel in this series in 1951 – Pride and Prejudice, with illustrations again by Gough and again no introduction.  If you are lucky enough to have all the six volumes published by Macdonald, you will see that they appear to be a set, all with the same binding and all illustrated by Gough – but they were published over a period of years from 1948 to 1961 as follows – with the No. in the Macdonald series in ():

  • 1948 – Emma (No. 4)
  • 1951 – Pride & Prejudice (No. 23)
  • 1957 – Mansfield Park (No. 34); introduction by Q. D. Leavis
  • 1958 – Sense & Sensibility (No. 37), with Lady Susan and The Watsons; intro by Q. D. Leavis
  • 1961 – Northanger Abbey (No. 40); intro by Malcolm Elwin
  • 1961 – Perusasion (No. 41); intro by Malcolm Elwin

Not sure why Leavis did not do the other introductions – her essays on Jane Austen are magnificent, and a definite must-have for your Austen library. Her Mansfield Park introduction, after stating that MP is “now recognized as the most interesting and important of the Austen novels,” gives us a brief summary of Austen’s life and times, then writes of her theories that Lady Susan is the matrix of Mansfield Park, that Austen was “soaked in Shakespeare,” that the Sotherton sequence  is one of the “most remarkable in any English novel” where all the action is symbolic and how its pattern of events is “exactly and awfully repeated” in the final outcome of the book, and finally how Mansfield Park is really a tragedy “in spite of the appearance of a happy ending.”

All of the novels were published with a stiff clear mylar wrapper with the title and “Illustrated by Philip Gough” in mustard yellow, and “By Jane Austen” in blue, with nothing on the spine but the gilt titles on the red backstrip showing through. These wrappers are nearly impossible to find. I only have the one for my Emma volume.

****************

There is little known about Philip Gough and I cannot find much researching the internet other than he was born in 1908, illustrated a number of children’s books (Alice in Wonderland, Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales are two examples); this Jane Austen series from Macdonald; and a goodly number of dust jackets for Georgette Heyer’s Regency novels (see below). There is a list of 14 books on Goodreads illustrated by him but this list is not complete – Jane Austen is not listed!)
[ https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/1981672.Philip_Gough ]

It is worth noting that in the introduction to the 1961 Persuasion by Malcolm Elwin (and also quoted by David Gilson in his entry E327 on this edition in his A Bibliography of Jane Austen), Elwin states that the drawings of Hugh Thomson are said to be “too Victorian in their sentimentality to suit the spirit and period of the novels” – and that “Mr. Gough has shown himself a student of the Regency period, and many sound critics have judged him to have succeeded in conveying the subtlety of Jane Austen’s satiric humour.” Gilson also notes a TLS review of this edition (10 November 1961, 810), quoting that “Philip Gough’s illustrations have their own brand of sentimentality, this time of the pretty-pretty sub-Rex Whistler variety.”

[example of a Rex Whistler drawing]

[Source: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2013/aug/25/rex-whistler-british-artist-exhibition ]

*********************

Illustrating Jane Austen:

Each of the novels begins with a chapter I heading drawing in black and white as well as a drawing on the title page. Emma as the first published of the novels is an exception – there are chapter heading illustrations for each of the odd-numbered chapters; all the other novels have only the one heading chapter I as well as the title page. Each novel has 7 watercolors (Sense and Sensibility only has five; there is one watercolor each for Lady Susan and The Watsons and each begins with a black and white drawing.) I find these watercolor illustrations a little too precious – there is a tendency toward “Pretty in Pink”– as you will see in these examples from each novel in the order of publication below. There is also some rather odd scenes of what Gough chose to illustrate and they are often placed so far from the actual text being quoted that they serve more as a distraction rather than illuminating the story. But these are quibbles – I love this set and am privileged to have it on my shelf – it is almost impossible to find as a full set, and each volume can be quite expensive when located (Emma is the most elusive) – my advice is to buy them when you see them and grin and bear it.

So now for a few examples of Gough’s illustrations from each of the novels:

Emma (1948): Gough definitely equated the Regency period and Jane Austen with the feminine Pink – and in Emma there is a good deal of it!

You can see all the Emma illustrations here, including two of the many chapter headings: https://www.fulltable.com/vts/aoi/g/emma/a.htm

Title page and frontis – notice the Cupid!
“A sweet view…” with what appears to be a Mormon tabernacle standing in for Donwell Abbey

Pride and Prejudice (1951): I have always looked rather wide-eyed at the abundance of Pink in Gough’s Pride and Prejudice especially in this portrait of Mr. Darcy at the pianoforte…!

And we must include Gough’s simpering Mr. Collins:

****************

Mansfield Park (1957): here is one example, but as noted above you can see all seven illustrations here: https://janeausteninvermont.blog/2014/12/30/jane-austens-mansfield-park-in-pictures-the-illustrations-of-philip-gough/

Sense and Sensibility (1958):

And of course it is indeed not Willoughby, but Edward…

Northanger Abbey (1961):

Persuasion: (1961)

Chapter heading from Ch. I of Persuasion: you would think this should be Kellynch Hall at the start of the novel – but this is certainly not grand enough for Sir Walter! We find on page 42 that it is Uppercross Cottage and here we see it in full color:

We shall end with Captain Wentworth, because, why not – we see him neither in a navy uniform (this is for another post – how many illustrators portray the good Captain in uniform??), nor is he in Pink, but an odd color nonetheless!

******************

Gough cover illustrations for Georgette Heyer – some examples (I LOVE these!):

Do you have a favorite Gough illustration??

©2021 Jane Austen in Vermont

Collecting Jane Austen: The Novels of Jane Austen, Dent, 1898.

Of all the Jane Austen sets, this Dent publication is probably the most well-known because of the Brock brothers illustrations – they have continued to be published over and over again, and the ones we think of when we think of “Jane Austen illustrated.”

The Novels of Jane Austen, J. M. Dent, 1898 [Molland’s]

1892 was a watershed year for Austen and the beginning of the many Dents – but today we will focus on this set published by J. M. Dent in 1898 in 10 volumes and edited by R. Brimley Johnson – it was the first to offer Jane Austen in color. You can find all the interesting information in Gilson at E90. But a quick summary and a few pictures will surely entice you to want this on your shelves – and if the set is hard to come by or beyond your price range, a fine adventure is trying to put a set together yourself, as individual volumes are often available.

Dent had originally published Austen’s novels in 1892, also edited by Johnson, but with sepia-toned illustrations by William C. Cooke [more on this set in another post]. But in 1898, Dent used the same text plates but deep-sixed the Cooke illustrations and took on the Brock brothers to render Austen in livelier watercolors reproduced by 6-color lithography with each volume having 6 illustrations. Charles Edmund Brock did Sense & Sensibility (vols. 1 and 2), Emma (vols. 7 and 8), and Persuasion (vol. 10). Henry Matthew Brock did Pride & Prejudice (vol. 3 and 4), Mansfield Park (vols. 5 and 6), and Northanger Abbey (vol. 9).

[You can read about the Brocks here at Molland’s with an excellent essay by Cinthia García Soria here:  http://www.mollands.net/etexts/other/brocks.html ]  You can also google their names and many of the Jane Austen blogs have posts on the Brocks and other illustrators.

The Brocks owned a number of Regency era furnishings and decorative arts, as well as a large collection of fashion prints – they had many costumes made, having family and friends model for them and perhaps why their illustrations seem so very authentic!  Laura Carroll and John Wilshire call these Brock-illustrated editions “Chocolate-box” – gift-book quality, beautiful inside with delicate pen or brush drawings, and outside with gilt embossing and Arts and Crafts inspired design; another critic refers to the Brocks’ work as “delicate teacup and saucer primness”! [See their essay “Jane Austen, Illustrated” in A Companion to Jane Austen, Wiley-Blackwell, 2012, pp. 62-77.]

C. E. Brock had previously illustrated Pride and Prejudice with black and white line drawings – this was published by Macmillan in 1895. He would go on in the years 1907-09 to illustrate all the novels for another Dent publication, their Series of English Idylls (with 24 watercolor illustrations in each volume; they were all later published as a set with fewer illustrations in each volume.) To compare CE Brock’s two very different styles in these two editions is an interesting way to spend at least an afternoon! Here is one example from Emma, the infamous romance-inducing umbrella scene:

******************

To follow all the wild publishing of Austen at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th requires a degree in bibliography, or at least a great deal of patience – and certainly you must have Gilson by your side. There were many, many reprints with many variations as to the number of illustrations, the quality of the reproductions, and binding types – it is great mess for the book buyer / collector – and all I can say is do your homework and buyer beware…!

American printings are another great mess, various publishers over a span of years, with varying number of illustrations, and in many cases a poorer reproduction quality. The most important thing to remember is that the earliest edition will have the higher price but also better quality printing and illustrations. As an example, compare these HM Brock 1898 and 1907 printings of Darcy giving Elizabeth his letter in Pride & Prejudice:

[this doesn’t show up very well in the scan – but there is a huge difference in the detail, color, and quality of the print]

Here are a few illustrations: I have various volumes and parts of the green cloth 1898 set, but also this 1898 set bound in leather – this one my favorite, but alas! it is missing something very important!

Dent 1898 – red leather – my set, lacking the all-important what?  P&P!

CE Brock, S&S – Willoughby rescuing Marianne

CE Brock, Persuasion, 1898:
The Fall! / The Letter!

HM Brock, NA, Henry drove so well [Mollands]
HM Brock, MP, Mary and her Harp

********************

Compare:

One of my favorite scenes in Pride & Prejudice is Elizabeth “in earnest contemplation” – here we can see CE Brock’s line drawing for Macmillan in 1895 and HM Brock’s in 1898, and CE Brock’s in 1907 [are you sufficiently confused yet??]

CE Brock, Macmillan, 1895 / HM Brock, Dent, 1898

CE Brock, Dent, 1907 [though this is not exactly the same quote you get the idea…]

*************

You can see the many Brock illustrations for the various editions of each novel by visiting the amazing Molland’s here: http://www.mollands.net/etexts/

******************

The Brocks are most often compared with Hugh Thomson: there are various critical interpretations of these two most popular Austen artists, some more approving of Thomson’s humor and his almost caricatured characters, while others preferring the more effective facial expressions and body language of the Brocks that seem more realistic despite the rather overdrawn borders and settings – do notice the detail in the fashion, the furnishings, and landscape, and what scenes are chosen – we can compare these to Thomson in future posts. The point is, you need them both

Mr. Knightley on his horse

Hugh Thomson, Emma, Macmillan, 1896 / CE Brock, Emma, Dent, 1898

********************

Stay tuned for a post on Hugh Thomson and his several Jane Austen editions – in the meantime, tell me your favorite of the Austen illustrators – I haven’t posted about mine yet…

©2021, Jane Austen in Vermont

Collecting Jane Austen ~ ‘Sermons to Young Women’ by James Fordyce

I shall take a little side road today with this discussion of must-haves in your Jane Austen collection – here an example of a book Jane Austen had read, referred to, satirized, and which then became the most interesting thing about Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice.

Part of collecting Jane Austen is to learn about and possibly add to your collection those books known to have been read by her, a fascinating list compiled from the many allusions in her novels and her letters. You can start with R. W. Chapman’s “Index of Literary Allusions, which you can find online.

Chapman’s list first appeared in the NA and P volume of the Oxford edition we looked at last week – more has been added to this – but this is a good start – you could spend the rest of your life just collecting “allusion” books and you will completely forget what you were collecting in the first place.

But Fordyce is one you must have, should read, for if nothing else it will give you a better idea of where Mr. Collins is coming from and what Austen has to say about both he AND Fordyce.

Sermons to Young Women, by Dr. James Fordyce, is certainly one the most well-known of all the various conduct manuals Austen would have had access to, published in London in 1766, “and by 1814, the year after Pride and Prejudice appeared, it had gone though 14 editions published in London alone.” [Ford, intro, i].

We all recall that in Pride and PrejudiceMr. Collins chooses to read Fordyce’s Sermons aloud to the Bennet sisters, Lydia especially unimpressed:

By tea-time, however, the dose had been enough, and Mr. Bennet was glad to take his guest into the drawing-room again, and, when tea was over, glad to invite him to read aloud to the ladies. Mr. Collins readily assented, and a book was produced; but, on beholding it (for everything announced it to be from a circulating library), he started back, and begging pardon, protested that he never read novels. Kitty stared at him, and Lydia exclaimed. Other books were produced, and after some deliberation he chose Fordyce’s Sermons. Lydia gaped as he opened the volume, and before he had, with very monotonous solemnity, read three pages, she interrupted him with:

“Do you know, mama, that my uncle Philips talks of turning away Richard; and if he does, Colonel Forster will hire him. My aunt told me so herself on Saturday. I shall walk to Meryton to-morrow to hear more about it, and to ask when Mr. Denny comes back from town.”

Lydia was bid by her two eldest sisters to hold her tongue; but Mr. Collins, much offended, laid aside his book, and said:

“I have often observed how little young ladies are interested by books of a serious stamp, though written solely for their benefit. It amazes me, I confess; for, certainly, there can be nothing so advantageous to them as instruction. But I will no longer importune my young cousin.” [P&P, Ch. XIV]

Collins, done with such young and frivolous young ladies, heads off for a game of backgammon with Mr. Bennet…

Illustrators of Pride and Prejudice have turned this scene into a visual treat:

Hugh Thomson, P&P (George Allen, 1894)

Chris Hammond, P&P, Gresham, 1900

**************

Fordyce (1720-1796) was a Scottish Presbyterian minister and a poet, but is most known for his Sermons. He also published Addresses to Young Men in 1777. But would we even be talking about him today if it weren’t for Jane Austen??!

As for his poetry, this is the only poem to be found on the Eighteenth-Century Poetry Archive, attesting to Fordyce’s seeming obsession with Female Virtue…

TRUE BEAUTY

The diamond’s and the ruby’s blaze
Disputes the palm with Beauty’s queen:
Not Beauty’s queen commands such praise,
Devoid of virtue if she’s seen.

But the soft tear in Pity’s eye
Outshines the diamond’s brightest beams;
But the sweet blush of Modesty
More beauteous than the ruby seems.

****************

Further Reading:

  1. For more information you can read this essay on Fordyce and P&P by Susan Allen Ford in Persuasions On-Line Mr. Collins Interrupted: Reading Fordyce’s Sermons with Pride and Prejudice [POL 34.1 (2013)].
  2. Here are some images and commentary at the British Library: https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/sermons-to-young-women
  3. Here’s the full text of a 2-volumes-in-one American edition from 1809 [the 3rd American from the 12th London edition] at HathiTrust: https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015008247788&view=1up&seq=5
  4. If your main concern is with “Female Virtue,” the University of Toronto has these two abstracts for your reading pleasure – From Sermon IV: On Female Virtue; and From Sermon V: On Female Virtue, Friendship, and Conversation: http://individual.utoronto.ca/dftaylor/Fordyce_Sermons.pdf
  5. As you will see in the comments below, A. Marie Sprayberry sent me this link to her excellent Persuasions On-Line essay on Fanny Price and Fordyce: “Fanny Price as Fordyce’s Ideal Woman? And Why?” http://www.jasna.org/persuasions/on-line/vol35no1/sprayberry.html

Much has been written about Austen and Fordyce – the point being, you need a copy. You can find it in one of its original editions on used bookstore sites for not over the top prices – or there are many, many reprints out there.

One of the best of these is the facsimile reprint of the 10th ed. of 1786 and published by Chawton House Press in 2012. Susan Allen Ford wrote the valuable introduction and it also includes a fine bibliography. This edition is unfortunately out-of-print and I am hoping that they will republish it in the near future. It was a best-seller in its time and again today! Who knew!

©Jane Austen in Vermont

Blog Tour: “A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice” ~ Guest Essay by Jasmine A. Stirling and Book Giveaway! Part II

Dear Readers: Yesterday I posted a book review of A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice, by Jasmine A. Stirling; illustrated by Vesper Stamper. Today, I welcome Jasmine with her guest essay on Jane Austen. Please see below for the book giveaway guidelines.

***********

How Jane Austen revolutionized the way the world viewed women

by Jasmine A. Stirling

Author of A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice

Readers looking for a little escapism might pick up a Jane Austen novel in search of light romantic comedy, not realizing how iconoclastic the beloved author’s books truly were. 

This is in fact, by design. First of all, Austen’s work is above all, great art. It’s manifold purposes are intentionally disguised in delightfully fun and witty prose, designed to propel us through the story and entertain while also educating readers. 

Secondly, Austen was writing at a time when women’s roles were strictly circumscribed. She knew that any overt critique of the patriarchal culture in which she and her characters lived would likely prevent her from being published, reviewed, and/or widely read. The trick was never to be too explicit about anything, so as not to alert the powers that be (wealthy men) that she might be poking holes in the system from which they derived their many privileges. Austen found a way to do just that in her novels—without transgressing the bounds of decorum, of good taste, of sound judgment, and equanimity. 

But Austen’s critiques are there, in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Let’s explore how Austen’s six beloved novels revolutionized the way the world viewed women.

Jane Austen’s heroines challenged the prevailing notion of the ideal woman as decorative, passive, emotional, and morally perfect.

When reading Austen, it is important to keep in mind that the ideal Regency lady was about as different from Lizzie Bennet as you can imagine. As one author wrote of the Regency ideal:

“The feminine ideal . . . may best be defined as an interesting compound of moral perfection and intellectual deficiency . . . She was required to be before all things a “womanly woman” meek, timid, trustful, clinging, yielding, unselfish, helpless and dependent, robust in neither body nor mind, but rather “fine by defect and amiably weak.” [She has not] laid aside the poetry of languor and the seductive debility that invested her with the allurement of a convalescent flower.”

Or, as Scottish moralist John Gregory instructed his daughters in the 1770s: “Wit is the most dangerous talent you can possess . . . if you happen to have any learning, keep it a profound secret, especially from the men.”

In addition to being morally perfect and intellectually deficient, the ideal Regency bride was very young, and came with a large fortune—which her husband would take possession of immediately after the wedding.

It is not surprising, then, that in this time period (as in our own), female characters—written overwhelmingly by male authors—were often portrayed in one dimension.  After all, as Anne Elliot wryly observed, “The pen has been in their hands.” In most novels and plays, women were caricatures: morally loose and wicked; virginal, demure, and sweet; saintly and motherly; scheming and power-hungry.

Not so Jane Austen’s heroines. Seen in this light, Lizzy Bennet is not only an incredibly charming, lovable leading lady filled with quirks and flaws; she is downright subversive. “When Austen allows Elizabeth to express critical attitudes,” scholar Judith Lowder Newton writes, “to act upon them without penalty, when she endows Elizabeth with the power to alter her lot, Austen is moving against traditional notions of feminine behavior and feminine fate.”

In fact, in one way or another, all of Austen’s heroines buck gender norms or fall far short of the Regency ideal. Yet are all rewarded handsomely at the end—with love and riches. Lizzy is cheeky and opinionated, Emma is insensitive and meddlesome. Elinor and Marianne are frightfully poor, while Fanny is both poor and low-born. Catherine is obsessed with novels, and Anne Elliot is old and no longer pretty. Most of Austen’s heroines (Emma being an exception) are intellectual and well-read.

Furthermore, it is taken absolutely for granted by Austen that each of her heroines is, or can become, able to make her own life decisions—without any reference to men, her parents, or her social betters. This alone is a radical assumption, coming from a culture in which gender, family honor, and class dictated nearly everything a woman was permitted to say, do, and think.

But Austen didn’t stop there. She also used humor to challenge notions of ideal femininity. In Mansfield Park, Lady Bertram is so passive that she is unable to rise from the sofa, let alone form her own thoughts. Entertaining, frivolous characters like Lydia Bennet and Mary Crawford are viciously satirized. Traditional Georgian accomplishments such as “netting a purse” are ridiculed. Furthermore, Austen’s most desirable male suitors have no interest in the ideal Regency woman. Mr. Darcy, for example, requires that his mate possess “the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.”

In fact, I am hard pressed to point to heroines in today’s novels, films and TV shows that shine quite as brightly or depict women quite as realistically as Jane Austen’s did more than 200 years ago. 

By raising up complicated, unique, bright, obstinate, and flawed women, then showing us their struggles and journeys of transformation, and finally rewarding them with love and happiness, Jane Austen obliterated unrealistic (and frankly, disturbing) notions of perfect, monolithic femininity, forever upending the way the world viewed women.

Jane Austen’s heroines helped readers experience first-hand the shockingly precarious and brutally inhumane status of women in Regency England.

CE Brock – S&S, 1908

During the Regency period, marriage required a woman to give up everything to her husband—her money, her freedom, her body, and her legal existence. Husbands were legally permitted to beat their wives, rape them, imprison them, and take their children away without their consent. 

Divorce in the Regency era could only be achieved by a private act of Parliament, and was exceedingly rare. Lower classes could sell their wives in the marketplace, which functioned as a form of divorce. The woman was led to market with a halter tied around her neck and sold to the highest bidder.

The laws of primogeniture and entailed property dictated that, upon his death, the bulk of a man’s inheritance typically be handed down to his eldest son or closest living male relative. If a woman inherited anything after her husband died, it was arranged at the time of the marriage and based on the assets she brought to the union. Often she got little or nothing at all.

Opting out of marriage was not a viable option for most women. Because most people believed that females were vastly intellectually inferior to males, there were no universities for women, and nearly all professions were reserved exclusively for men. A spinster often faced a life of poverty, ridicule, and dependence on the charity of her male relatives.  

As a result, for Austen, “a story about love and marriage wasn’t ever a light and frothy confection.” Hidden in all that effervescent prose are subtle but seething critiques of Regency society, laws, and gender norms. Austen used romantic comedy to expose the incredibly high stakes of the marriage game for women who had no other options. She helped readers see the precariousness, anxiety and vulnerability of real women—showing the brutality of their situation more poignantly, entertainingly, and intimately than any political treatise could have achieved.

In Sense and Sensibility, we feel the injustice of inheritance laws when Henry Dashwood dies and his wife and children are forced to leave their home and live at the mercy of the heir, Mrs. Dashwood’s stepson, John. John chooses to give them little help, and overnight, Mrs. Dashwood goes from living in splendor to barely scraping by.

In Pride and Prejudice, the key context for the story is that the Bennet family home, Longborne, is entailed to the insufferable Mr. Collins. If his daughters do not marry before their father dies, they will be left to depend on the charity of their male relatives (a situation Austen knew well, as it was hers after her father died).

Although Austen’s heroines find both love and riches, unhappy and loveless marriages far outnumber happy ones in her novels. Wickham is bribed into marrying Lydia; she will have to endure a lifetime of his womanizing ways. Willoughby rejects Marianne, opting for Miss Grey’s £50,000. Charlotte Lucas, twenty-seven years old and superior in character, temperament, and intellect, to the pompous and revolting Mr. Collins, accepts his offer of marriage because “it was the only honourable provision for well-educated young women of small fortune,” thereby relieving her brothers of the burden of providing for her as an old maid. In fact, Charlotte “felt all the good luck of it.”

In these and many other examples, the reality of women’s narrow options, their shocking lack of personal freedom, and their extreme financial vulnerability ring loud and clear. For the first time in history, Austen’s novels humanized and personalized women’s issues in a revolutionary way, adding fuel to the fire for radical new ideas that were just beginning to circulate about women’s rights, education, and opportunities.

Chris Hammond, P&P, Blackie 1904


Jane Austen championed the radical idea of the ideal marriage as a match between two rational and emotional equals.

While the bleak fates of many of Austen’s female characters illustrate the limited options facing women in the Regency era, happy endings await her heroines. These happy endings also challenged mainstream Regency notions of marriage, which typically looked very unlike that of Lizzie Bennet and Mr. Darcy.  

A middle or upper class Regency marriage was often a male-dominated exchange, dictated by two families coming together to consolidate their fortunes. When she married, a woman passed from the control of her father to that of her husband. She might have the opportunity to reject a suitor, or choose from a number of suitors; or she might be a passive participant in this exchange, depending on her circumstances and family culture. In either case, her submissiveness after the wedding was considered crucial to its success. Austen rejected this model of marriage as ideal in her novels and in her life, writing to her niece that “nothing can be compared to the misery of being bound without Love.” 

Notions of marriage were changing rapidly in Austen’s era, inspired primarily by the Romantics—poets, authors and philosophers who believed that marriage should be fueled exclusively by romantic love—but Austen also rejected this ideal.

While the Romantics insisted that choosing a partner should be about unleashing one’s most passionate feelings, Austen championed the classical, Aristotelian philosophy of balance between emotion and reason when choosing a partner for life. The successful coming of age of an Austen heroine hinges on her learning to discern the true nature of a suitor, not simply the appearance he projects. It also often requires that she look beyond her emotional impulses and fall in love with a man’s character and temperament—as in the case of Marianne Dashwood and Elizabeth Bennet, who are initially attracted to handsome, romantic rakes.

Indeed, flashy romantic suitors like Mr. Wickham and John Willoughby often prove to be wicked, scheming, and insincere. By contrast, more subdued men like Colonel Brandon and Captain Wentworth attempt to restrain their emotions in order to preserve the honor of the women they admire, and wait to betray their feelings until they are certain they are ready to propose. 

Furthermore, Austen’s heroines, although driven by love, do not neglect to consider the practical implications of marrying well. After all, it is only after seeing Pemberley with her own eyes that Lizzie finally relents and accepts Mr. Darcy’s proposal, famously thinking as she looks across the valley at his vast estate: “To be mistress of Pemberley might be something!”

In all of these respects, Austen was, and still is, a fresh voice on the topic of marriage. Our own era is still firmly in the grip of the Romantic frenzy—emotional love songs, extravagant courtships and proposals, an emphasis on being swept away in one’s feelings, and fairy tales with happy endings dominate popular culture. 

For Austen, a classical reverence for balance—equal parts reason and emotion—reigned supreme, especially on the part of the woman, who had far more to lose in marriage than her male counterpart. Too much reason, and you have Elinor Dashwood, a woman who is initially a little too selfless and withdrawn. Too much emotion, and you have her sister Marianne, a woman who follows her feelings straight into the arms of a charlatan. To grow, each sister must learn a little bit from the other.

In this way, Austen again challenged the way the world viewed both marriage and a woman’s journey of self-discovery on her path towards finding love.

***

Jane Austen often compared herself to a miniature painter. In her work every situation, character name, snippet of dialogue, and location—matters. It is in these mundane details that Austen’s revolutionary ideas are expressed; it is here that we find the clues to the world Austen dreamed that women would one day occupy.

Viewed in this manner, Austen’s novels become much more than a parade of clever stories about romance and balls. They become, instead, a series of novels in which a brilliant, snarky woman unmasks the culture in which she lives—in ways that were, and still are, revolutionary.

In the end, Austen manages to write both about the real world—a world filled with greed, injustice, deceit, and hypocrisy—in which women’s roles are suffocatingly and terrifyingly limited—and a world of her own making—in which right prevails, and the smart, sassy, headstrong woman gets everything she could ever dream of, and more. 

**********************

About Jasmine A. Stirling

Jasmine A. Stirling is the debut author of A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice, a picture book biography of Jane Austen about persistence and creative mastery. Jasmine lives on a cheerful street in San Francisco with her husband, two daughters, and their dog. From a young age, she loved to write poems and stories and worked her way through nearly every children’s book (and quite a few for grownups, too) in her local library. When she’s not writing, Jasmine can be found hiking in the fog, singing songs from old musicals, and fiddling with her camera.

Jasmine first fell in love with Jane Austen as a student at Oxford, where she read her favorite of Jane’s six masterful novels, Persuasion. A Most Clever Girl is her dream project, done with her dream team—award-winning illustrator Vesper Stamper and Bloomsbury Children’s Publishing. Jasmine also has a YA/New Adult history of the women’s suffrage movement out soon, titled We Demand An Equal Voice.

Visit www.jasmineastirling.com to get a free Jane Austen paper doll kit with the purchase of A Most Clever Girl. While you’re there, enter to win a Regency tea party gift basket!

Follow Jasmine on Instagram and Facebook @jasmine.a.stirling.author where she posts about kidlit and life with two young girls.

BOOK GIVEAWAY:

Enter for a chance to win a glorious Jane Austen-themed picnic basket, including a hardcover copy of A Most Clever Girl autographed by Jasmine A. Stirling!

One (1) grand prize winner receives:

  • A picnic basket filled with:
    • A copy of A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice, signed by author Jasmine A. Stirling
    • A vintage teacup
    • 1 oz of tea From Adagio Teas
    • Truffles from Moonstruck Chocolates
    • Gardenia hand cream
    • A set of Jane Austen playing cards
    • A $15 gift certificate to Jasmine A. Stirling’s Austenite Etsy Shop, Box Hill Goods

Two (2) winners receive:

  • A copy of A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice, signed by author Jasmine A. Stirling

The giveaway begins March 16, 2021, at 12:01 A.M. MT, and ends April 16, 2021, at 11:59 P.M. MT.

CLICK HERE FOR THE GIVEAWAY FORM

**********

Thank you Jasmine for your insightful essay on our “revolutionary” Austen!

You can find the links to each of the daily blog tour posts here: https://www.thechildrensbookreview.com/2021/03/a-most-clever-girl-how-jane-austen-discovered-her-voice-awareness-tour

©2021 Jane Austen in Vermont

Blog Tour: “A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice” ~ Book Review and Giveaway! Part I

A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice,
by Jasmine A. Stirling; illustrated by Vesper Stamper.
Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2021

Dear Readers: Please see below my review information on the Book Giveaway. And join me again tomorrow for Part II with an essay by Jasmine A. Stirling on “How Jane Austen revolutionized the way the world viewed women.”

*************

The recent opinion essay by the New York Times Book Review editor Pamela Paul “You’re Not Too Old for Picture Books” (Feb. 21, 2021), presents a fine case for the importance, relevance, brilliance, and pure pleasure such books can give us. Paul admonishes us as parents to not confine ourselves to the parameters of the 4-8 age group, to not take such books away from our children too soon, nay, to not put them aside ourselves. How well we remember such books from our own childhoods (think Jessie Willcox Smith or Beatrix Potter or N. C. Wyeth), where words and pictures were made one, the art telling its own story beyond the words of the text.

In a past life as an elementary school librarian (I at the time also had small children), I found such joy in reading and re-reading these pictures books, designated for the younger grades but having the older students engage with them as well. I have never gotten over this love of these “juvenile” works and still try every year to at least purchase the newest Caldecott winner (a REAL book too, no kindle for these!) Biographical picture books have increased of late, and such works on Jane Austen can nearly fill a shelf – but each is unique, each brings a new take on Austen with new ideas, new art, new ways to engage readers of any age with her world.

A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice, written by Jasmine A. Stirling and illustrated by Vesper Stamper, is a fine addition to this burgeoning shelf, this, as the press release says “an informative, engaging depiction of the life and growth of an exceptional literary talent.” It is funny and sad and profound, taking Austen from a happy childhood reading and writing for her family’s entertainment in the house at Steventon, where “her mother wrote verse…her brothers debated the news…Jane and Cassandra sang songs upstairs…her father taught Shakespeare below.” In this one sentence, with the accompanying illustration of a very busy household, Stirling and Stamper perfectly sum up Austen’s childhood world.

***************

We see her growing, seeking “a room of her own” to write her stories, observing the quirks and eccentricities of visiting friends and neighbors, and then the sadness and tragedy with the move to Bath and the death of her father, her life now “a quick succession of busy nothings.” Stamper leaves her colorful joyful world of Steventon behind and gives us a Bath that is dark and gray and lonely (Stamper writes that the color palette comes from the textile shades of Austen’s time), color to appear again when settling in Chawton, Jane finding words to write, creating the characters like Elizabeth and Emma and Anne and her many Heroes we have come to love – writing “hearbreak and sadness, happiness and hope” into her novels. Then she is PUBLISHED and we see an appreciative Prince Regent, patrons of circulating libraries choosing HER books, and US, still reading and loving her very original and brilliant voice.

I loved this book – the words and pictures taking us into Austen’s mind and her world – high praise to both writer and illustrator for such a beautifully told and rendered tale, as Stirling herself writes: “I wanted to tell a different kind of story – one centered on Jane’s genius” – and thereby giving hope to anyone out there who might be searching for their own voice, at any age. I found it as insightful and as complete as any of the many lengthy biographies I have read!

Included is a short nicely-written biography, a selection of the more famous Austen sayings sprinkled in the text (“indulge your imagination in every possible flight” – where does Austen say this??), a note from both Stirling and Stamper, and a listing of resources for further reading.

Chawton House – rear endpaper

A final word on the endpapers, one of my favorite parts of any and every book I handle – here Stamper gives us colorful and imaginative drawings of Austen’s beloved Hampshire, Steventon on the front endpaper, Chawton Cottage (now Jane Austen House Museum) and Chawton House on the rear endpapers, places that inspired Jane Austen to become the genius she indeed was, and places we visit (alas, only a pump at Steventon!) to get closer to her mind and art. Perfectly lovely – and quite “clever” itself!

GIVEAWAY!!

Enter for a chance to win a glorious Jane Austen-themed picnic basket, including a hardcover copy of A Most Clever Girl autographed by Jasmine A. Stirling!

One (1) grand prize winner receives:

  • A picnic basket filled with:
    • A copy of A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice, signed by author Jasmine A. Stirling
    • A vintage teacup
    • 1 oz of tea From Adagio Teas
    • Truffles from Moonstruck Chocolates
    • Gardenia hand cream
    • A set of Jane Austen playing cards
    • A $15 gift certificate to Jasmine A. Stirling’s Austenite Etsy Shop, Box Hill Goods

Two (2) winners receive:

  • A copy of A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice, signed by author Jasmine A. Stirling

The giveaway begins March 16, 2021, at 12:01 A.M. MT, and ends April 16, 2021, at 11:59 P.M. MT.

Click here for the Giveaway Form

**************************

ABOUT THE BOOK:

A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Found Her Voice

Written by Jasmine A. Stirling; Illustrated by Vesper Stamper

Ages 4-12; 48 Pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
ISBN-13: 978-1547601103

Publisher’s Synopsis: Witty and mischievous Jane Austen grew up in a house overflowing with words. As a young girl, she delighted in making her family laugh with tales that poked fun at the popular novels of her time, stories that featured fragile ladies and ridiculous plots. Before long, Jane was writing her own stories-uproariously funny ones, using all the details of her life in a country village as inspiration.

In times of joy, Jane’s words burst from her pen. But after facing sorrow and loss, she wondered if she’d ever write again. Jane realized her writing would not be truly her own until she found her unique voice. She didn’t know it then, but that voice would go on to capture readers’ hearts and minds for generations to come.

PURCHASE LINKS: [always check your local bookstore first!]

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/a/2078/9781547601103
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2O2scVx

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jasmine A. Stirling is the debut author of A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice, a picture book biography of Jane Austen about persistence and creative mastery. Jasmine lives on a cheerful street in San Francisco with her husband, two daughters, and their dog. From a young age, she loved to write poems and stories and worked her way through nearly every children’s book (and quite a few for grownups, too) in her local library. When she’s not writing, Jasmine can be found hiking in the fog, singing songs from old musicals, and fiddling with her camera.

Jasmine first fell in love with Jane Austen as a student at Oxford, where she read her favorite of Jane’s six masterful novels, Persuasion. A Most Clever Girl is her dream project, done with her dream team—award-winning illustrator Vesper Stamper and Bloomsbury Children’s Publishing. Jasmine also has a YA/New Adult history of the women’s suffrage movement out soon, titled We Demand An Equal Voice.

Visit www.jasmineastirling.com to get a free Jane Austen paper doll kit with the purchase of A Most Clever Girl. While you’re there, enter to win a Regency tea party gift basket!

Follow Jasmine on Instagram and Facebook @jasmine.a.stirling.author where she posts about kidlit and life with two young girls.

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR:

Vesper Stamper website

Vesper Stamper is an award-winning author-illustrator of picture books and historical fiction for young adults, including What the Night Sings, winner of the Sydney Taylor Book Award for the National Book Award, and A Cloud of Courageous Blue. She lives with her husband, filmmaker Ben Stamper, and her two teenagers, in the northeastern United States, but England is her happy place. Her favorite Jane Austen in Emma. You can visit her at vesperillustration.com.

************

BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE: links to each day’s post can be found here: https://www.thechildrensbookreview.com/2021/03/a-most-clever-girl-how-jane-austen-discovered-her-voice-awareness-tour

Please join me again tomorrow for Part II with an essay by Jasmine A. Stirling onHow Jane Austen revolutionized the way the world viewed women.”


©2021 Jane Austen in Vermont

Collecting Jane Austen: Northanger Abbey Cover Art

I am cheating this week by copying and expanding an old post, but as it fits nicely into the “collecting Jane Austen” theme, I shall hopefully be pardoned [plus the original post is 11 years old!]

na-art-nouveaucover2

 

This post began back in February of 2009 when Laurel Ann at Austenprose asked about the illustration by Paul Hardy in my post on Henry Tilney.  This illustration was the frontispiece in an undated Blackie & Son [London] edition from the late 19th – early 20th century. There is a bookseller ticket for “R. F. Hunger, Stationer & Printer.”

And there is an inscription dated February 1902 that reads –  “Florrie Steggles, for excellent work. E. Pollard 1902.”  [this is why I love inscriptions!] … what a gift for a young lady to receive! [Notice the inscriber first wrote 8 rather than 9 in 1902 – over a year later and still not used to the 1900s!)

I bought this book for its cover alone [alas! the pages are quite browned and there is only one illustration], but the Art Nouveau unsigned decorative binding is just lovely, the spine also decorated – it is a welcome sight on my book shelves:

You can also see this rather unfortunate stain on the rear board – a damp stain that faded the navy cloth to this beautiful blue!

There are 8 pages of advertisements for Blackie & Son’s in the rear: here the first page and page 7 with Austen’s Northanger Abbey listed under “Library of Famous Books for Boys and Girls.”

The one and only illustration is by Paul Hardy:

“Bath, compared with London,” said Mr. Tilney, “has little variety.”

Paul Hardy (1862-1942) was an English illustrator, known for his illustrations in The Strand Magazine and his painting of Canterbury Pilgrims. Austen is listed as one of the novelists he illustrated, but I find only this Northanger Abbey. You can read about Hardy and see a good number of his illustrations here: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Paul_Hardy_(illustrator)

Hardy’s efforts to get the Regency right are a tad off – he seems to have a confused fashion sense! – your thoughts??

As for collecting, scouting out the decorated covers of Austen’s works is a worthy endeavor. Both Janine Barchas’s The Lost Books of Jane Austen (Johns Hopkins, 2019), and Margaret Sullivan’s Jane Austen Cover to Cover (Quirk, 2014) are excellent references to aid in your search.

Do you have any favorite covers in your Austen collection?

©2021 Jane Austen in Vermont

Collecting Jane Austen: The Novels, illustrated by A. Wallis Mills, 1908

The Novels of Jane Austen. London: Chatto & Windus, 1908-09
[Source: Jonkers Rare Books]

At number E117 in the Gilson Bibliography we find this 10-volume set listed with the following description:

“Printed by Arden Press, Letchworth. Olive green cloth gilt, with small oval colour illustration pasted down on each front board, endpapers [same in all volumes] reproducing a watercolour drawing by A. Wallis Mills, green dustwrappers printed in black. A general introduction and introductory notes by R. Brimley Johnson, title pages printed in blue and black, each volume has a frontispiece and nine other colour plates also by Mills [they plates do not always face the page specified in the illustration].

The volumes were available separately, or as a set bound in whole green parchment. Reissued in 1925 by George C. Harrap, London, bound in mid brown diagonal fine-ribbed cloth, otherwise identical with the original issue.”

So, I don’t actually have this full set, just the Persuasion volume, the one novel I focus my collecting energies on. I was doing a talk on illustrating Persuasion and wanted to have my own copy, and I broke all the rules of collecting to get it – I found it online, knew it was in terrible condition, but bought it anyway – it didn’t cost much and I wanted it for the illustrations and the endpapers. Alas!, it smells – so it is kept in its own place and not on the shelves with my other Persuasion copies – but, no regrets.

I am posting on this for a few reasons – because it is often the illustrated editions that are the most interesting and therefore the most collectible. And while we know our Brock and Thomson and Hammond editions, this set is not as well known.

A[rthur] Wallis Mills [1878-1940] was a British artist of mostly humorous subjects – he is famous for his cartoons and illustrations for Punch and The Strand magazines, and he illustrated more P. G. Wodehouse stories than any other artist.

You can see some of his Punch cartoons here: https://punch.photoshelter.com/gallery/Arthur-Wallis-Mills-Cartoons/G00006Xjyj6w34.8/

An inspiring example:

“Suffragettes at Home” for Punch Magazine, published 14 April 1909.

He: I say, that lady over there looks rather out of it’.
She: Yes, you see, most of us here have been in prison two or three times, and she, poor dear, has only been bound over!’

We might wonder why Chatto chose a political cartoonist to illustrate Austen – but at least we can give them credit for acknowledging her satirical wit.

Here is a composite of a number of the illustrations across all the volumes:

A review of the two Sense and Sensibility volumes in the set appeared in The Literary Digest of October 1908, page 561, published by Duffield & Co., New York: the reviewer wrote:

“These two volumes in the new ten-volume set of Jane Austen’s writings, illustrated in colors by A. Wallis Mills, follow closely upon the publication of the first two, which contained “Pride and Prejudice.” Mr. Mills has caught the spirit of the original rather better in these volumes than he did in the other. His Mr. Darcey [sic] was not quite convincing, nor were his Miss Bennets, altho he was more successful with Mrs. Bennet—quite successful, in fact. In the present volume his Sir John is entirely satisfying and so are Mrs. Jennings and Mrs. Ferriar. We like immensely, also, his Dashwood girls. His picture of Mrs. John Dashwood’s arrival in her new home is entirely adequate. A more satisfying edition of Jane Austen is not known to us.”

[One can only assume the reviewer never saw a single Brock, Thomson, or Hammond!]

Here’s a larger image of the scene of Elizabeth in “earnest contemplation” of Mr. Darcy’s portrait – I cannot help but agree with the above reviewer’s opinion of Mr. Darcy:

Though I find him a far better Darcy here:

***********************

What most interests me about these Mills illustrations is that the Austen illustrator Joan Hassall found them so distasteful, she did the unpardonable [in my view] with regard to a book: She writes, “Unfortunately, I could not like these pictures and spent a long time perseveringly tearing out about 50 coloured plates.” [JAS Report, 1973] – which means she left 50 intact – I wonder which ones! David Gilson calls them insipid! – these are very strong responses to poor Mr. Mills, and sure proof that the illustrations in a Jane Austen novel can either make or break the story for you.

Here are some examples from the set:

the very busy endpapers

From Persuasion – here is the frontispiece, which makes no sense at all – it is the frontispiece, which should be a grand introduction to the book, and here we have Benwick and Mary Musgrove walking the beach at Lyme Regis – can you recall they even did this together?? Certainly no poetry conversation between them…

And this also from Persuasion of Charles Musgrove and Benwick “rat-hunting”: Musgrove a dead ringer for Prince Charles [and again, a rather odd scene to illustrate…]:

We must see Captain Wentworth or you shall never forgive me…he’s on the left looking rather disturbed… cramped “on the same sofa… divided only by Mrs. Musgrove, no insignificant barrier indeed… and perhaps wondering why he ever left his ship…

I don’t find Mr. Mills’ attempts at giving us Austen’s humor in watercolor as awful as some – I do think they are a tad wishy-washy and far too-cute, but he is spot-on with the fashions and his humorous side is apparent, just maybe not as effective as Hugh Thomson? I do think you need to see all the illustrations from each volume to get the full effect, his comedy more subtle. They in some ways remind me of the 2013 Royal Mail postage stamps by Angela Barrett, where you can see the Persuasion scene is that of Mr. Elliot first spotting Anne on the Cobb:

Royal Mail Jane Austen Stamps, 2013

You find these volumes often sold separately, and often in not great conidtion [be sure to check for those 10 illustrations in each volume!] – full sets appear infrequently and might run to $1000 or more depending upon condition.

Thoughts anyone? Would you cut these illustrations out of your set [thereby making it worthless], or call them insipid??

©2021 Jane Austen in Vermont

Collecting Jane Austen: Book Collecting 101

Gentle Readers: In an effort to offer weekly posts on collecting Jane Austen, I shall start with the basics of book collecting – this a general summary of things to consider with a few examples specific to Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice in particular. This will be followed by weekly posts on randomly chosen books in the various categories I list here that I think are essential to a Jane Austen collection.

Let’s start in the pages of Pride and Prejudice in the library at Netherfield where we find Elizabeth, Miss Bingley, Mr. Bingley, and Mr. Darcy:

   [Elizabeth] walked towards a table where a few books were lying. He [Bingley] immediately offered to fetch her others; all that his library afforded.

   “And I wish my collection were larger for your benefit and my own credit; but I am an idle fellow, and though I have not many, I have more than I ever look into.”

   Elizabeth assured him that she could suit herself perfectly with those in the room.

   “I am astonished,” said Miss Bingley, “that my father should have left so small a collection of books. What a delightful library you have at Pemberley, Mr. Darcy!”

   “It ought to be good,” he replied; “it has been the work of many generations.”

   “And then you have added so much to it yourself, you are always buying books.” [my emphasis]

   “I cannot comprehend the neglect of a family library in such days as these.”

Chatsworth Library [British Magazine]

And so, here we have the permission of Mr. Darcy himself to buy as many books as we would like!

II. The Collecting of Books:

Terry Belanger, a veteran book collector and rare book librarian once famously said “you are a collector if you have more than one copy of a single title” –

So, I ask you, how many of you have more than one copy of any of Jane Austen’s novels? And how many of you already realize that to collect all copies of books by and about Jane Austen is surely an impossible task? Even focusing on one title, say Pride and Prejudice, we would find it an impossible undertaking!

So where to start?

1. The first rule of book collecting is Collect what you Love – so I can assume that any of you reading this all love Jane Austen, and so that will be our focus… and not only the books but also the myriad objects and ephemera.  You can collect anything – my son collects Sneakers, only Nike Jordans, which leads to books about sneakers, etc…!

An amusing tale about collecting one title: In a used bookshop in England a few years ago I hit the mother-load of A Child’s Garden of Verses – a title I collect –

 I brought five different editions to the register, manned by a young man obviously neither the owner nor all that well-versed in the vagaries of collecting – he hesitated for a moment, looked thoughtful, and finally blurted out “Do you know that all these books are the same?” [epilogue: I bought them all…]

2.  Try to find the 1st edition (and by “first edition” I mean “first printing”), and how do we do that?

  1st edition Pride and Prejudice [National Library of Scotland]

For most of us, Jane Austen first editions are beyond our pocketbooks – but you will need to know the basics of book collecting to understand why some books are harder to find, and why, when you find them, they can often be expensive.

It is here you will need to decide if you want the first edition in pristine condition or if you only need a reading copy, or not even a first edition at all – this is a question to ask at every purchase.

The most difficult aspect of book collecting is how to identify a first edition – every publisher did it differently and often changed their indicators over time. There are many guides to help with this.

This Pocket Guide to the Identification of First Editions by Bill McBride is the best starting point for a general understanding of the practices of various publishers. You can also find this information online at Quill & Brush Books: https://www.qbbooks.com/first_ed_pub.php

Then you will need more specific detail on the author/subject you are collecting, and thankfully for us Jane Austen enthusiasts, David Gilson, and Keynes and Chapman before him, have largely done this work for us…

The David Gilson A Bibliography of Jane Austen will be your Bible to collecting Austen, a must-have book – I have already posted about this here: https://janeausteninvermont.blog/2021/02/26/collecting-jane-austen-gilsons-bibliography/

3. The Anatomy of a Book:

If you want to understand book terminology, you must have John Carter’s ABC for Book Collectors – the 8th edition by John Carter and Nicolas Barker.  Oak Knoll Press / British Library, 2004. 

It is now available online at ILAB: https://ilab.org/sites/default/files/2018-01/ABC-BOOK-FOR-COLLECTORS_0.PDF

Another easily accessible glossary is on Abebooks: https://www.abebooks.com/books/rarebooks/collecting-guide/understanding-rare-books/glossary.shtml

Most commonly used terms:

  • 1st edition
  • Issue
  • Points
  • Boards
  • Spine head, spine tail
  • Backstrip
  • Text block
  • Hinge
  • Joint
  • Endpapers
  • Half-title page
  • Title page
  • Copyright page
  • Frontispiece
  • Publisher’s cloth
  • Catchword: “heard” at the bottom of the page is the catchword = the first word on the next page

-Vignette
-Foxing:

Example of foxing: Dent 1908 reprint, illus. HM Brock

4. Determining value: supply and demand – Desirability+Scarcity=Value

  • Is the book still in print?
  • How many copies were printed?
  • Is this the author’s first book? – Sense and Sensibility is the most valuable
  • How did the book first appear? – binding, dust jacket? [value greatly reduced if lacking jacket: 75% – fiction, 20% – non-fiction]. Eg. S&S first published in boards is more valuable than the finest leather binding

S&S 1st ed in boards and leather bound]: estimated value:  $200,000 / $50,000.

  • Illustrations present? are they all there?
  • Condition, Condition, Condition! – most important factor! [see more below]
  • Where do you find values? There are many guides to consult:
  1. Allen and Patricia Ahearn. Collected Books: A Guide to Identification and Values. 4th ed. (2011); see also their author guides – one on JA from 2007
  2. American Book Prices Current: auction sales, so actual value
  3. Bookseller catalogues: what titles are selling for
  4. Author and subject bibliographies
  5. Internet: bookselling sites: be wary – prices all over the place

5. CONDITION is the most important issue: prices will vary depending upon condition – even if you have the 1st edition – if it is in deplorable condition that will affect the value.

Booksellers grade a book’s condition using the terms below, from “As New” down to “Poor”: for instance VG [for the book ] / VG [for the jacket] – anything less than a VG is really not collectible:

VERY FINE/NEW [VF / NEW]: As new, unread.

FINE: Close to new, showing slight signs of age but without any defects.

VERY GOOD [VG]: A used book that shows some sign of wear but still has no defects.

GOOD [G]: A book that shows normal wear and aging, still complete and with no major defects.

FAIR: A worn and used copy, probably with cover tears and other defects.

POOR: a mess really, but might have some redeeming qualities

READING COPY: any book less than VG

*************

An interesting tale to demonstrate this: The rare bookseller Stuart Bennett [no relation to our esteemed Bennet family!] writes in his book Trade Bookbinding in the British Isles 1660-1800.

Alas! pre-Austen, but we find her in a NOTE: [an aside – always check indexes for Jane Austen – you will be pleasantly surprised to see how often she turns up and in the most amazing places!]

Bennett writes in a footnote on the issue of publishing in boards vs. the wealthy having their favorite books bound in leather:

What is certain is that wrappered and boarded popular literature was not part of the visual landscape of country house libraries.  In my experience these books, when kept, found their way into cupboards underneath the display bookcases, or into passages or rooms used by servants. In my days at Christie’s I once spent hours in the pantry cupboards of a Scottish country house, searching through stacks of these wrappered and boarded books among which I found, virtually as new, Volume III of the first edition of Sense and Sensibility. When I found the other two volumes I remarked to the aristocratic owners that this was one of the most valuable books in the house, as exceptional survival in original condition, and doubtless so because one of their ancestors had bought Jane Austen’s first novel, read it, and hadn’t cared enough to send it to for rebinding, and never bought another. My ebullience was arrested by an icy stare from the Countess, who replied, “I am sure, Mr. Bennett, that our ancestors would never have felt that way about Jane Austen.” [3]

Stuart tells me: this S&S set the then-record auction price in 1977 or 1978 (he was the auctioneer!), and turned up about twenty or maybe 25 years later offered by a London bookseller for, as he recalls, $200,000.  Then it disappeared again. 

Question:  Should you buy a less collectible book because you cannot afford the higher price? – do you just want a reading copy or need to fill a gap in your collection? – you can decide this on a case-by-case basis – what becomes available and when and how much you can spend…

6. Where to find Books:

“Beauty in Search of Knowledge” – Thomas Rowlandson

Local bookstores: sadly less of them, but still the best resource of Jane Austen books – a bookseller who will know your likes, will buy with you in mind, someone to trust…
– Specific booksellers: those who specialize in Jane Austen and other women writers – shops, catalogues – you can find at book-fairs, being on their catalogue mailing list, and on the internet. For eg. Jane Austen Books https://www.janeaustenbooks.net/
Auctions / auction catalogues
– The Internet: major used bookselling sites: you need to be an informed consumer!

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the Internet: I could write a very lengthy post just on this – so I will only emphasize the biggest positive – you have at your fingertips a Global marketplace – no longer dependent on a brick & mortar shop around the corner [sad as this is to me!]

Biggest negative: be in be-wary mode – who are you buying from? – how to decide which is the best copy with so many price and condition discrepancies? – my best advice? – choose a bookseller who knows what they are about: valid and complete descriptions and a price that seems reasonable in light of other copies on offer.

A word about EBAY: a Gigantic auction house always open! – an amazing resource but also the biggest potential for getting a bad deal – you need to be an informed consumer!

Best use of the internet: Want Lists – most book sites do this and auction houses offer “alerts” – you will be notified when an item becomes available…

7. Caring for your collection: lots of information here to consider…just not today.

II. What to Collect:

Now comes the hard part – with so much out there on Jane Austen, where do you even begin? The need to focus on one particular aspect [say just collecting copies of Pride and Prejudice], or by zeroing in on a certain illustrator you like [the Brock brothers], or only books with fine decorative bindings [so many] – this list covers the gamut of possibilities – you just need to choose what you are most interested in. You must however start with a core collection:

A.  A Jane Austen Core Collection

Oxford edition of The Novels of Jane Austen, ed. R. W. Chapman, 3rd ed.

1. The Works:  the Oxford edition, ed. by Chapman (1923); the Cambridge edition, general editor Janet Todd, with each volume edited by a a different scholar; a set of reading copies of each novel – ones you can markup, underline, and make notes

2.  The Letters – all editions [Brabourne, Chapman, Le Faye, Modert]

3.  R. W. Chapman’s books on Jane Austen

4.  Biography: the Memoir and everything since!

5.  A Chronology of Jane Austen, Deirdre Le Faye (Cambridge, 2006)

6.  The Bibliographies: Keynes, Chapman, Gilson, Barry Roth’s 3 volumes, and those continued annually in Persuasions; the Cambridge Bibliographies, etc…

7. Brian Southam. The Critical Heritage. Vol I. 1811-1870. Routledge, 1979; The Critical Heritage, Vol. II. 1870-1940. Routledge, 1987. – now available as digital reprints, 2009

8. Critical works: starting off point to further study – where to start?? The bibliographies; “Companions” – “Handbooks” – “Casebooks”

9. The World of Jane Austen: [endless material!]

  • The Arts: Music, Art, Architecture; Interior Design and Decorative Arts; Landscape
  • Georgian and Regency History: Political, Economic, Social, Religious
  • Social life and customs: Etiquette; Gender / Class issues; Dancing; Costume and Fashion
  • Domestic Arts: Cookery, Needlework, Women’s work, Family life, Home-life, Servants
  • Medical History
  • Military History: the Royal Navy, the Militia, The French Revolution, the American Revolution, Napoleonic Wars, War of 1812
  • Geographical History and Maps
  • Travel and Transportation: Carriages, Roads, Guidebooks, etc…
  • Literary Theory, History of the Novel, Narrative Theory, Language

B. Collecting a specific Jane Austen novel: as an example Pride & Prejudice

P&P, Gresham, 1900, illus. by Chris Hammond, Talwin Morris binding
  • 1st editions
  • American editions
  • Specific Publishers: Bentley, Macmillan, Dent, Oxford, Folio Society, LLC, Penguin, etc.
  • Translated editions
  • Illustrators: also single illustrations
  • Decorative bindings / cover art – to include paperbacks
  • Critical editions: with scholarly editing and introductions
  • Books where P&P shows up
  • Association copies: e.g. Sarah Harriet Burney’s copy
  • Books that influenced Austen: e.g. Frances Burney’s Cecilia
  • Adaptations: Editions for young readers; Dramatizations; Films, Audiobooks
  • Sequels! – endless potential!
  • History / Social Life and Customs of the times, specific to P&P – fill your bookshelves!
  • Ephemera and Physical Objects – P&P merchandise in popular culture, many to do with Colin Firth…(!)
Royal Mail, Jane Austen Stamps 1975, by Barbara Brown

*****************

Ok, now you know everything to know about Book Collecting – you can begin this lifelong fun-filled endeavor! Join me next week for the first of many [I hope] Jane Austen-related titles you must have on your shelves…all with Mr. Darcy’s approval. Any questions or suggestions, please comment.

©2021, Jane Austen in Vermont

“The Lost Books of Jane Austen” ~ Interview with Author Janine Barchas

Enquiring Minds: I welcome today, Professor Janine Barchas, author of the recently published The Lost Books of Jane Austen, a work of mind-boggling scholarship, wherein “hardcore bibliography meets Antiques Roadshow!” And whether your tastes run to book history, the science of bibliography, literary history, or just a love of Jane Austen, you will be delighted with this addition to your Austen collection – an absolute must-have in my mind, to be shelved in a place of honor right alongside your copy of David Gilson. And don’t think it is some pedagogical tome – I laughed, I cried, I learned, I was wowed! – and I think you will be too.

Today, Janine is going to share with us what got her started on this incredible journey, some of her finds, and where it all goes from here.

Deb:  First off, I must say that his book has been universally praised by Austen scholars and readers, book historians, and bibliographers! Did you have any idea the book would be so universally embraced?

JB:  I dared not hope.  Instead, I worried about whether crisscrossing the standard demarcations between audience groups (academics v. fans, readers v. collectors) might prove fatal.  At the start, anonymous readers of the manuscript for Johns Hopkins University Press warned against the intellectual Schizophrenia of my approach (my phrasing).  In view of their worry, much of the final book was rewritten and reframed so that essential bibliographical details would not detract from the larger human narrative—what my editor called “not getting lost in the weeds.” In other words, I had a lot of help and advice while shaping a book to appeal widely—and to different people for different reasons.  Who would have thought that any press could produce such a handsome gift-worthy volume filled with headshots of tatty, cheap, and rejected books?  From the start, there was something not entirely rational about expecting any audience for a book about unwanted books.  I’m immensely gratified that so many people share my affection for these neglected reprints.

Deb: How did your education / scholarship lead you to working on Jane Austen – how, and when? In other words, when did your fascination with Austen begin?

JB: I came to Austen late and reluctantly.  I was not introduced to her until college and graduate school, where I read her as a duty (as a stop along the history of the novel genre) rather than as a pleasure.  I did not return to her novels in earnest until I was asked to teach a single-author course on Austen.  At first, I tried to argue my way out of the task—after all, Samuel Richardson, who has no action figure, needed me more.  Eventually, I gave in to the market demand on campus.  Once I slowed down, reread all her books, and started teaching Austen, I had to bend at the knee along with all her other devotees.

Deb: You have always had an interest in book history – tell us about your first book: Graphic Design, Print Culture, and the Eighteenth-Century Novel, published by Cambridge University Press in 2003.

JB: All my projects seem to take a material turn.  Graphic Design argued that it was silly for serious academics to study and write about eighteenth-century novels while staring at and quoting from modern paperbacks (e.g. the Penguin reprints used in college classrooms).  I showed how these modern reprints had silently altered the text as well as the innovative typographical innovations for which the genre was termed “novel” in the first place (ie. layout, paratexts, illustrations, the advertising language of title pages, font choices).  In Graphic Design I urged serious scholars to return to the original editions of eighteenth-century books when studying literary meaning.  In Lost Books, I finally found a scholarly purpose for all those inauthentic reprintings that I dismissed as unauthoritative in that early project!

Deb:  You go through 200 years of Austen’s publishing history in such an interesting order. When did it become apparent that these divisions were a way of approaching the Lost Books: Paperback Jane, Scholarly Jane, Virtuous Jane, Temperance Jane, Marketing with Jane, Armed Services Jane, Chick-lit Jane, etc…

JB: For years, I periodically rearranged the shelves of the cheap Austen reprints that I acquired, grouping books on the dining room table and elsewhere to see what patterns emerged—patterns of aesthetics, formats, prices, audiences, etc.  I wanted to explore patterns that would allow me to go beyond the usual mere temporal lists of publications (“and then this edition, and then this one”).  While the story of the “pinking” of Jane Austen during the 1950s and 60s showed itself fairly quickly, the most meaningful patterns were impossible to see until after I gained access to the books of other collectors whose plentiful shelves contained many more examples to sort (physically or mentally). All in all, it probably took nine years of looking before the one year of writing to feel that I had a book’s worth of findings to share.

Deb: The seven Vignettes you include in the book tell the stories of book owners of the many Austen novels you have found. These are enlightening, sometimes wrenching – but such a personal tribute to Austen’s many readers through the past 200 years. A name, a date, maybe an address would send you on a deep-dive adventure into census, birth, marriage and death records – thank goodness for the internet and ancestry.com, making such research even possible! What was your favorite connection that you found?

JB: Locating the backstories and former owners behind particular copies was indeed the most rewarding part of researching and writing this book.  However, asking me to pick between these people and their books is like asking a mother which child is her “favorite.” As you say, some of the backstories proved tearjerkers while other copies offered up endearing or surprising anecdotes about the lives of real Austen readers.  The vignette that makes me smile most broadly is probably the one about the young Harvard law student named Heman Burr who, on his very first trip to Paris in 1879, binge read all of Jane Austen’s novels.

Deb: What was the most elusive, that you just couldn’t let go? – and finally found something…

JB: Unlocking the ownership history of one cheap mid-nineteenth-century copy of Mansfield Park depended upon locating the official naval record of the officer whose name matched the ownership signature. Even after I found his record, I needed help from a colleague familiar with naval terminology and a knowledge of specific ships and battles to see that his navel career mapped neatly onto the Austen novel that he had so treasured.

Deb: And the one(s) where you hit a brick-wall and ended at a dead end?

JB: There were dozens and dozens of books whose ownership signatures I could not trace with certainty in the historical record – sometimes because the name was too common or the inscription lacked mention of a location to help triangulate it. The anonymity that an all-too-common name conveys has its own cosmic sadness.  For a provenance researcher there is nothing more deflating than the proud ownership signature of a “Miss Smith.”

Deb: How many more stories do you have, not included in Lost Books, but possibly to be published elsewhere? Can we hope for a Vignettes sequel??

JB: There were handfuls of worthy backstories and many clusters of odd reprints that did not make it into the final book.  While a sequel is not in the cards (sweet of you to ask!), I have published a few of those findings as separate essays for the Los Angeles Review of Books and also for Literary Hub.

Another such essay (about the ignored marginalia of those who disliked Austen) is scheduled to appear in the May/June issue of Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine.

‘Sense and Sensibility’ in the Marguerite Series from Miles & Miles (London), no date – Barchas collection (page 112)


Deb: Throughout this past decade of research, you located and purchased as many of these cheaply published works as possible; or you found collectors willing to share their shelves with you; or you found the odd one in a scholarly institution:

– What surprised you the most?

JB: The sheer number of cheap reprints not listed in Jane Austen’s bibliographies. I had assumed that bibliographies were, barring oversight and human error, objective records of publications.  I was taken aback by how subjective the discipline of bibliography is and how biased towards “important” highbrow editions.

Deb: Your most amazing discovery?

JB: A well-thumbed copy of Mansfield Park from the 1890s that served as an attendance prize in a temperance society for coal miners.  Coal miners!

Deb: Most elusive find?

JB: A paperback copy of Elizabeth Bennet published in Philadelphia in 1845 and which originally sold for 25 cents.

**************

Deb: What is now the most prized book in your collection, and why?

JB: The cheap colorful copy of Northanger Abbey published by Blackie & Sons which was awarded as a school prize in Forfar Scotland in 1911 to one “Annie Munro.”  During my research, I discovered that only six months later Annie tragically died from diphtheria, age 13, and that this volume could be the sole artifact she left behind. It was an honor to be able to tell Annie’s story in the book’s last vignette, and it remains an honor to safeguard her prized book.


Deb:  Tell us about the cover, specially done for you – it is such a combination of the old, the new, the charming – just a perfect introduction to the feast that awaits the reader on the inside!

JB: The incredible artist who created the book sculpture for the cover is Mike Stilkey, who works with discarded library books and lives in Los Angeles.  He is famous for his large wall-sized installations on which he paints unique figures and animals.  In a fan letter, I told him about my own Lost Books project.  He then created his “Jane Austen” sculpture from discarded books for possible use on the cover.  Everyone at the press instantly loved it.  I agree that Stilkey’s work strikes the perfect note and I remain grateful to him for responding with such generosity to this project.

Deb: You end your book with a “call to action”: that this “gobsmackingly incomplete historical record” of the publishing of Jane Austen has much more to be added to – you wish / hope that other collectors, scholars, laypeople, and institutions will share with you any such “low-brow editions” they might have – you envision some sort of digital bibliography – how do you hope to move forward with this idea? How can people help?

JB: Ambitiously, I now hope that collectors of such reprints as I discuss in Lost Books will agree to donate these relatively inexpensive but scarce volumes to institutions with proper special collections, where these books can allow further research into publishing history and Austen’s reception.  The major Austen collector that I worked with has generously agreed to donate her Jane Austen reprints to a special collections library that has, in turn, agreed to house such a gift (cataloguing and storage costs are non-trivial).  I have agreed to add my own books to hers, trusting that, jointly, our donations will help to save information for the future and prompt others to do the same. Books such as this need to be together to maximize the information they contain as historic artifacts.  Interested parties can contact me about inquiring about similar donations.  In addition, a collector in Australia wrote me that he has reacted to my project by starting a blog that shows other collectors how to trace prices and provenance of “cheaper” reprints: https://bookcollectingheaven.com/2020/03/30/price-and-provenance/ .

Deb: And finally, what’s up next?

JB: This year, with the help of a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies and a stay at the Lewis Walpole Library, I have begun a new project, called Renting in the Age of Austen.  When Jane Austen is born in 1775, the burgeoning consumer culture of late-Georgian England increasingly allowed temporary ownership over some luxury goods for a fee. Books and artworks could now be borrowed, furniture and musical instruments rented, carriages or horses hired, and whole country mansions let. Some Georgian rentals were bizarre (e.g. pineapples), but all complicated identity politics. Rented objects blur traditional social signals of rank.  Whereas old sumptuary laws aimed to fix luxury goods as markers of class, in Austen’s era privilege could be flaunted with kit and carriages not one’s own. My project explores the messy logistics of what was rented (where, to whom, and at what prices?) to reveal the social implications for this early economy of temporary possession.

Deb: Anything else you would like to share?

JB: I would like folks to know of my unexpected lockdown project: “Pride & Plague” on Twitter (@PridePlague). On this channel celebrity couple William Shakespeare and Jane Austen have been posting updates to their fans while in social isolation during the COVID-19 crisis. Even those not on Twitter can see it here for a chuckle: https://twitter.com/PridePlague.  I think of this project as my contribution to morale [and a welcome contribution it is! See below for some examples…]

**********

Thank you Janine for sharing your insights – I do most heartily recommend this book to everyone – and please, look at your shelves and see if perchance you might have your very own “unsung reprints” lying about – you too could add to the knowledge of Jane Austen’s publishing history and be a part of this fascinating story.

 

About the author:

Janine Barchas is the Louann and Larry Temple Centennial Professor in English Literature at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of Matters of Fact in Jane Austen: History, Location, and Celebrity and the prize-winning Graphic Design, Print Culture, and the Eighteenth-Century Novel.  She is the creator behind the digital project What Jane Saw wherein we can view two Georgian blockbusters as witnessed by Jane Austen (Joshua Reynolds in 1813 and the Shakespeare Gallery of 1796). She has also written essays for the Washington Post, New York Times, Lit Hub, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. Her newest work, The Lost Books of Jane Austen, about the many unsung editions of Jane Austen, was published by Johns Hopkins University Press this past October.

Janine is also the President of NAFCH, the North American Friends of Chawton House, a group that works to raise funds and garner support for the Chawton estate of Jane Austen’s brother Edward and its Library devoted to early women writers.

Further reading:

***********

The Lost Books of Jane Austen, by Janine Barchas
Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019
284 pages. Color illustrations throughout.

You can purchase it at your local bookseller or here at Amazon.

**********

As noted above, Janine is currently working through the present sheltering-in-place crisis by finding daily humor in the antics of Jane and Will and posting all about them on her twitter page “Pride & Plague.” You can follow the fun here: https://twitter.com/PridePlague

©2020 Jane Austen in Vermont

“…a something ready for publication…” ~ The Publishing Journey of Jane Austen’s ‘Persuasion’

I begin with my own prejudice – Persuasion has long been my favorite Austen novel. One cannot dispute the joy of reading Pride and Prejudice; or the laughter at the pure innocence and brilliance of Northanger Abbey; we can sympathize with the moral steadfastness of Fanny in Mansfield Park, savor the (im)perfections of Emma (both the book and heroine!), and revel in that dawning realization that Sense and Sensibility is so much better than at first thought. But it is Persuasion that holds my abiding affection – a novel of second chances, a novel that seems closest in some inexplicable way to Jane Austen herself, a romance where she actually plays out the agony of lost and found love, and so unlike her, a profession of love that she actually doesn’t back off from and leave the reader to their own imaginings!

But here today, I am only going to talk of how it all came to be. I’ve already written about the interesting publishing journey of Northanger Abbey here – and Persuasion, because it was published along with NA in a 4-volume set after Austen’s death, is bound up (literally) in that publishing story, Northanger Abbey, her earliest completed work, and Persuasion, her last – and why Sarah Emsley on her blog has called her celebration of these two works as “Youth and Experience.”

But other than being bound together in late December 1817, the journey of Persuasion’s composition and publication is quite different, as we shall see.

How it came to be:

NA / P – 1st ed – Peter Harrington

Cassandra’s “Memorandum” (see Minor Works, facing p 242), where she wrote the dates of the composition of each of the novels, tells us that Austen began Persuasion on August 8, 1815 and wrote “Finis” at the end of the manuscript on July 18, 1816.

We know from her nephew James Edward Austen Leigh’s 1871 Memoir that Austen was dissatisfied with the ending, she thought it “tame and flat:” she rewrote chapter 10 (i.e.chapter 10 of volume 2), added chapter 11, and retained chapter 12 (which had been the final chapter 11). This final version was finished on August 6, 1816.

These handwritten original two chapters are the only extant manuscripts of Austen’s novels.  These were first printed in the 1871 second edition of the Memoir, and this was the accepted text until the actual MS became available on December 12, 1925 and was edited and published by R. W. by Chapman under the title Two Chapters of Persuasion (Oxford, 1926). The manuscripts are now housed in the British Library, and you can see the transcribed text beside the facsimile online at Jane Austen’s Fiction Manuscripts: http://www.janeausten.ac.uk/manuscripts/blpers/1.html

Cancelled Chapter 10 – JAFM

As these cancelled chapters are included in most modern scholarly editions of the novel, I shall assume you have read them and will only summarize here: Austen has Anne meeting Admiral Croft on her way home from Mrs. Smith’s (and where she has just learned of the true character of William Elliot) – she is invited to visit Mrs. Croft, and assured of her being alone, she accepts, and to her consternation finds Capt. Wentworth at home. Admiral Croft has asked Wentworth to find out from Anne if the rumors are true she is to marry her cousin and thus might want to move into Kellynch Hall.  Wentworth is quite beside himself but does as asked, “irresolute & embarrassed;” with Anne’s adamant assurance that nothing is farther from the truth, they have

a silent, but very powerful Dialogue;- on his side, Supplication, on hers acceptance. – Still, a little nearer- and a hand taken and pressed – and “Anne, my own dear Anne!” – bursting forth in the fullness of exquisite feeling – and all Suspense & Indecision were over. – They were reunited. They were restored to all that had been lost.

Etc. etc… explaining all their past feelings and misunderstandings and a final chapter of future plans, they are left “with little to distress them beyond the want of Graciousness and Warmth” once their news was spread to family and friends, ex-potential lovers and a scheming Mrs. Clay.

A discussion of why Austen made these changes is beyond the topic here at hand – but we can agree with Austen’s own assessment that it was too “tame and flat:” she needed to pull all the characters together – the Musgroves, Benwick and Harville, the Crofts, and the obtuse Elliots; she needed to increase the tension and suspense between Anne and Wentworth; she wanted to give Anne a strong voice in her conversation with Harville, all overheard by Wentworth; and of course she needed the Letter – what would Persuasion be without “You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope…”? !

Photo by Sony/Everett / Rex Features 
PERSUASION, Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds, 1995

I will note that in the movie version (Amanda Root – Ciaran Hinds, Sony/BBC 1995) – and I think the most perfect of all the Austen adaptations – a part of this scene with Wentworth and Anne is added to the plot, Wentworth confronting Anne in the Assembly Room at Admiral Croft’s request, Wentworth sure of her impending engagement to Elliot, and Anne, unable to answer in her confusion and hurt, runs off. This leads to the scene as written at the Inn – Wentworth listening and composing, the remainder of the film following the book. – This is all worthy of further conversation!

But one of Austen’s classic lines is not in the final novel – the first draft is a bit more comic in nature, and perhaps she thought it not fitting the more somber nature of this work:

It was necessary to sit up half the Night & lie awake the remainder to comprehend with composure her present state, & pay for the overplus of Bliss, by Headake & Fatigue.

************************

That Austen made these changes is a gift to later generations, as it is in this manuscript that we are given a rare glimpse into how meticulous she was in her writing and editing methods, crossing out and rewriting, looking for the exactly correct word or phrase.

We know little about Persuasion from Austen herself:  it is only mentioned in her Letters twice, though not by name:

On March 13, 1817 she wrote to her niece Fanny Knight:

I will answer your kind questions more than you expect. – Miss Catherine (meaning Northanger Abbey) is put upon the Shelve for the present, and I do not know if she will ever come out; – but I have a something ready for Publication, which may perhaps appear about a twelvemonth hence.  It is short, about the length of Catherine – This is for yourself alone… [Letter 153, Le Faye]

And again on March 23, 1817:

Do not be surprised at finding Uncle Henry acquainted with my having another ready for publication. I could not say No when he asked me, but he knows nothing more of it. – You will not like it, so you need not be impatient.  You may perhaps like the Heroine, as she is almost too good for me. [Letter 155, Le Faye]

The working title for Persuasion was “The Elliots” – as there is no evidence that Austen chose the titles for either Northanger Abbey or Persuasion, it is generally accepted that her brother Henry titled both; and we might agree with him: interesting to note that “persuasion” in one form or another in mentioned in the novel at least 29 times – you can go to this hyper-concordance to Jane Austen to search for all the occurrences: http://victorian-studies.net/concordance/austen/

Henry must have delivered the manuscripts of both Northanger Abbey and Persuasion to John Murray very soon after Austen’s death on July 17, 1817. Murray wrote to Byron, whose works Murray also published, in early September 1817 telling him that of the new books he was about to publish included “two new novels left by Jane Austen, the ingenious author of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ who, I am sorry to say, died six weeks ago.” (Gilson, xxx.)

So, one question to ask is if Austen “finished” Persuasion in August 1816, why write seven months later that it “may perhaps appear about a twelvemonth hence” ??? What kept her from sending it along to Murray upon completion if she was happy with it in March of 2017?

Austen’s life when she was writing Persuasion:

Scene from P&P – Isabel Bishop – Morgan Library

If we look at the writing of Persuasion on a blank canvas – she started it in August 1815, finished August 1816 – we do not get a complete sense of Austen the woman, the sister, the friend, the author. I find it most fascinating to look at her life in that year and ask what else was going on while she used her spare quiet moments to write this her last novel:

– She visits London and is staying with Henry in October 1815 and stays until mid-December. She is working on the proof sheets of Emma, Henry negotiating with Murray to publish Emma and a 2nd edition of Mansfield Park – she is also working on the corrections for this 2nd edition.  

– Henry falls dangerously ill, and Austen takes on writing letters to Murray herself while nursing Henry; she requests all family members to come as there is growing concern he will not survive.

– It is conjectured that one of Henry’s doctors, Matthew Baillie, learned of his sister being the author of Pride & Prejudice, etc. and passed this word on to the Prince Regent. On the 13th of November, Austen visits Carlton House at the request of the Prince Regent’s Librarian James Stanier Clarke – she is also asked to dedicate her soon-to-be-published Emma to his “Royal Highness” – and though she hated this prospect, it likely sped up the printing process. (One aside: she had to pay for the Prince’s 3 vol. beautifully bound copy of Emma…)

Emma, 1st ed. Windsor Castle – Le Faye

– In late November, the Alton bank fails and bankruptcy looms over Henry and his partners.

– Austen leaves London on her birthday 16 December 1815 once Henry is fully recovered and the initial fear of bankruptcy seems allayed; Emma is published on 23 December 1815 (title page says 1816).

– In early 1816, Henry buys back “Susan / Catherine / Northanger Abbey” from Crosby for the £10 originally paid to Austen in 1803 and she begins to make a few edits, writes her “Advertisement” and by March it is “put upon the Shelve at present.” (Crosby went bankrupt shortly thereafter).

– In February, her brother Charles, commanding the HMS Phoenix, is caught in a storm off the Greek Archipelago and runs aground. He is brought up for a court-martial in April for his responsibility in the action but is completely acquitted.

– There is the ongoing lawsuit that threatens Edward Austen Knight’s properties – and this is not resolved until after Jane’s death (see Ltr. 122, October 17-18, 1815 for one reference to Edward’s “Cause”).

– And sometime in here she writes her very funny “Plan of a Novel” – inspired without question by her correspondence with Clarke which lasted from November 1815 to April 1816. [You can read this as well online here: http://www.janeausten.ac.uk/manuscripts/pmplan/1.html ].

Henry Austen

– By mid-March, Henry is declared bankrupt and his life as a banker, and Austen’s chief financial support in her publishing endeavors, is over. This is a dreadful blow to the entire family – he can no longer offer any support to his mother and sisters; Edward has lost a good deal of money and will be responsible for many of the debts; and James is at risk of losing his inheritance in the Leigh-Perrot estate. The bankruptcy is resolved by June – but Henry has had to sell off everything (for a fine accounting of the details of Henry’s home furnishings, see Clery, 268).

– Emma is published in late December and initially does very well, but sales begin to slack off after the March 1818 Quarterly Review essay by Walter Scott. Appearing to offer praise to Austen’s narrative voice and abilities to portray her few families with wit and precision, Clery finds that the negative tone of the review, the emphasis on what Austen leaves out of her works and his failure to mention Mansfield Park at all, greatly influenced Austen’s writing of Persuasion.

She is writing this work during these many crises of health and possible death and financial losses. No wonder she writes of an extravagant family on the brink of ruin and characters with various health issues. Clery makes another point I confess to never thinking of before – could her Sir Walter be some sort of slam at Walter Scott?? (Clery, 272) – You can compare Austen’s Emma sales (1409 copies sold early on) with Scott’s own sales for his Rob Roy, also published in late December 1817 and which sold 10,000 copies in two weeks. 

 

– In the context of the wider world, there was the ever-expanding and more competitive market for publishing novels in Austen’s time. In 1775, the year she was born, 31 new novels were published; in 1811, when Sense & Sensibility appeared, 80 new fiction works appeared; for the year 1818, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were published along with 61 other novels.  Altogether, 2,503 new novels were published in the years between 1775 and 1818. (Raven, 195-6)

So to answer my own question: why did Austen not publish Persuasion after she finished it? Her brother was no longer able to cover the costs of publication and loss if sales should fail; and, the signs of her own declining health were beginning in mid-1816, that summer, “the year without a summer” due to the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia. It is a wonder she was able to write anything at all, much less go on with working on her brilliant Sanditon, put aside on 18 March 1817…

 What did the book look like?

NA / 1st ed. title page – P. Harrington

– It was published posthumously in December 1817 [though the title page says 1818] with Northanger Abbey

– Title page states: “By the Author of ‘Pride & Prejudice,’ ‘Mansfield Park,’ etc.”; With a “Biographical Notice of the Author,” (dated Dec. 20, 1817, by Henry Austen, thus identifying his sister as the author to the public for the first time)

– Published by John Murray, London; 1818; in four volumes: the two Northanger Abbey volumes printed by C. Roworth; the two Persuasion volumes by T. Davison of Lombard St.

– Included is the “Advertisement by the Authoress to Northanger Abbey” where Austen “apologizes” for the datedness of the story and zings the dastardly publisher for withholding the book for 10 years…

– Advertised first in The Courier 17 December 1817 as to be published on 20 December in 4 volumes, 24s.: “Northanger Abbey, a Romance; and Persuasion, a Novel.” The advertisement in The Morning Chronicle appeared on the 19th (“Tomorrow will be published”) and the 20th of December 1817 (“Books published this day”).

Physical description:

  • 12mo or about 7.5″ tall, with text on pages not crowded but about 5-8 words / line and about 21 lines / page in vol. 3; 22 lines / page in vol. 4 – and interesting to note that unlike the Northanger volumes there are no catchwords used in the Persuasion volumes
  • blue-grey paper boards, off-white or grey-brown backstrips, white paper labels (there are a number of variants) –

NA / P – 1st ed – Sotheby’s, 2010

Size of run: @ 1750 copies [various opinions on this; some say 2500 copies] – 1409 copies sold very quickly, the majority to circulating libraries

Cost: 24 shillings for the 4 volumes

Profit: @£515 – like Austen’s other works, Persuasion was published on commission:  Austen paid for costs of production and advertising and retained the copyright; the publisher paid a commission on each book sold – the exception was Pride & Prejudice for which she sold the copyright to Thomas Egerton

What is it worth today?

Price Guides (estimates in 2007): Original binding: $75,000 / Rebound copy: $20,000

An online search on Abebooks, March 15, 2018 brings up five copies of the 4-volume 1st edition, none in original boards, and range from $11,000 to $25,000

In 2010, a 1st edition in original boards sold at Sotheby’s for £43,250 ($68,396) with an estimate of 31,628 — 47,442   USD)

Where can you find a copy?

I love this tidbit (from Gilson): Queen Elizabeth has in her personal library at Windsor Castle Sir Walter Scott’s copy of the 1st edition.

Gilson notes where copies of the 1st edition can be found (other than the Queen’s and therefore more accessible to all, and certainly at least one of these will be close to you!), at all the usual suspects in various bindings: Goucher, the Bodleian, Boston Athenaeum, Boston Public Library, British Library, Cambridge, Jane Austen’s House Museum, Columbia, Library of Congress, U of Edinburgh, U of Glasgow, Harvard, London Library, National Library of Scotland, the Morgan Library, New York Public Library, U of Toronto, Yale, Williams, etc. See the rest of Gilson’s list on pg 88-91.

When was the First American edition published?

Persuasion – 1st Am ed, 1832 – James Cummins

Persuasion was published in America by Carey & Lea of Philadelphia in two volumes in 1832, separate from Northanger Abbey which was published in two volumes in 1833. The title page states “by Miss Austen, Author of ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ ‘Emma,’ ‘Mansfield-Park,’ etc.” Bound in drab paper boards with purple cloth spines with white spine labels, the spine reads: “Persuasion, by Miss Austen / Author of Pride and Prejudice.” 1250 copies were printed, and advertised on November 8, 1832 as “Persuasion, a novel, by Miss Austin [sic]” as being published that day. (And people have been getting it wrong ever since!) Gilson points out the various modifications to language typical of all the American editions of Austen’s novels, mostly those having to do with the Deity, for instance “Lord bless me!” is changed to just “Bless me!”

Estimated value: Original binding: $10,000 / Rebound copy: $5,000

You can find two copies available online at Abebooks: $10,000 and $15,000 – both in original boards.

Persuasion – 1st Am ed, 1832 -title page – J. Cummins

Parlez-vous francais? Persuasion in French:


La Famille Elliot ou “L’Ancienne Inclination” [ “the old or former inclination”] translated by Isabelle de Montolieu, was published in Paris in 1821 by Arthus Bertrand. This is the first published novel to have Austen’s full name on the title page and to include illustrations: an engraved frontispiece in each volume (Delvaux after Charles Abraham Chasselat). In volume I we find Capt. Wentworth removing two-year old Walter Musgrove from Anne’s back; and in volume II, here we see Wentworth placing his heart-wrenching letter before Anne.

You can read the full text (in French) here: https://fr.wikisource.org/wiki/La_Famille_Elliot

The French texts of Austen’s novels, what Southam calls “travesties not translations,” (26) were modified to fit the tastes of the sentimental French reading public. In Persuasion, Montolieu changes the ending by restoring Anne to Kellynch rather than leaving the future of Capt. Wentworth and Anne dependent upon a lasting peace. (See Cossy, 176) One notable change (and why we might ask!), is that Anne’s name is changed to Alice! 

The First Illustrated Edition in England:

NA / P – Bentley, 1833

Richard Bentley purchased the copyrights of Austen’s novels from Henry and Cassandra in 1832 (and the copyright of P&P from Thomas Egerton) and in 1832-33 he published all the novels in his Standard Novels series. These were the first English editions to carry illustrations – steel-engraved frontispieces and title page vignettes by William Greatbatch after George Pickering. Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were published in 1833 in a single volume together with the frontispiece from Northanger Abbey (Henry coming up the stairs surprising Catherine) and the title vignette from Persuasion showing a seated Anne overhearing Capt. Wentworth talking to Louisa Musgrove. All very Victorian!

The Timeframe of Persuasion:

Though Austen is often been criticized for creating an insular world with little commentary on outside real-life events, such thinking is belied with a close study of Persuasion, where one finds a very specific chronology easily linked to the historical reality of the time depicted.

– The first paragraph of Persuasion sets us into this timeframe with quoting the “Elliot of Kellynch Hall” entry from the Baronetage, the only work Sir Walter seems capable of reading, and where we learn the birth and death dates of everyone in the family – we learn that Anne was born on August 9, 1787 and a still-born son in 1789, and that Anne’s mother died in 1801.

– In chapter 4, we are given the very specific time that Capt.Wentworth stayed with his brother at Monkford for six months over the summer of 1806. This is the backstory of Persuasion, the current story often called a sequel to this original tale of love, all now told in four pages…

– The exact time of the action is set a few pages on in chapter 1: “…at the present time, (the summer of 1814)…,” and in chapter 3, a direct reference to the peace: “This peace will be turning all our rich Naval Officers ashore.” The Peace of Paris was signed on May 30, 1814, Napoleon abdicating and off to Elba. There were celebrations in London that Austen refers to in her letters:

Allied Sovereigns Attending a Review in Hyde Park June 1814
Duke of Wellington, King of Prussia, Prince Regent (later George IV), and Emperor of Russia

Austen writes Cassandra who is in London with Henry:

Take care of yourself, & do not be trampled to death in running after the Emperor. The report in Alton yesterday was that they certainly would certainly travel this road either to, or from Portsmouth. – I long to know what this Bow of the Prince’s will produce.- [Ltr 101, 14 June 1814]

– The Elliots travel to Bath sometime in mid-September, Anne goes to Uppercross Cottage, and on Michaelmas, September 29, the Crofts take over Kellynch.

– Captain Wentworth arrives in October; they all visit Lyme Regis in November (this is 17 miles from Uppercross). In January Lady Russell takes Anne to Bath (Mary’s letter to Anne in Bath is dated February 1815, this carried by the Crofts when they come to Bath for the Admiral’s health). Captain Wentworth follows not far behind, all is beautifully settled with Anne, and the novel ends in March of 1815.

– In the real world, Napoleon escapes Elba and returns to Paris by March 20, 1815 – this is after Persuasion ends, before Waterloo in June 1815, and why Austen ends the novel with the unknown state of the peace leaving Anne and her Captain in limbo. In truth, the Navy was not mobilized in the spring of 1815, and so we might rest comfortably in that reality of Wentworth not being returned to a Ship and War – and contemporary readers in late 1817 would have known that… but Austen chooses to emphasize that any such “peace” is likely not long-lasting, as we know all too well even today…

Austen’s personal knowledge of Bath, Lyme Regis and the Navy is paramount in Persuasion, but it is interesting to note regarding the Navy and pointed out by Brian Southam in his Jane Austen and the Navy, that not a single critic or commentator addresses her sailors and officers as a social class until Richard Simpson’s review of James Edward Austen Leigh’s 1870 Memoir in the North British Review of April 1870.

And one date in this novel that has always made me wonder: why does Austen have Charles and Mary Musgrove marry in 1810 on her very own birthday of December 16?? Any thoughts?? There is a long gap in the letters here: from July 26, 1809 to April 20, 1811, so we have no idea what was going on in Austen’s own life on that date in 1810 – we can only wonder that it was not some sort of code to her family of readers…

(For a complete calendar to the events in Persuasion see Ellen Moody’s post here: http://www.jimandellen.org/austen/persuasion.calendar.html

What did the earliest reviewers have to say?

The early reviews of the two-novel publication all make reference to the sadness of her death and, now finally identified to the public in Henry’s “Biographical Notice,” a general lament that no other works will come from her pen. I will give a quick summary here of the four earliest reviews as this is really a topic for another blog post entirely:

  1. British Critic, December 1817, an unsigned review: After commenting on the talents of Jane Austen, where “some of the best qualities of the best sort of novels display a degree of excellence that has not been often surpassed,” the writer goes on to summarize and highly praise Northanger Abbey. Persuasion is given short shrift with a concluding paragraph I quote in its entirety:

With respect to the second of the novels, it will be necessary to say but little. It is in every respect a much less fortunate performance than that which we have just been considering. It is manifestly the work of the same mind, and contains parts of very great merit; among them, however, we certainly should not number its moral, which seems to be, that young people should always marry according to their own inclinations and upon their own judgment; for that in consequence of listening to grave counsels, they defer their marriage, til they have wherewith to live upon, they will be laying the foundation for years of misery, such as only the heroes and heroines of novels can reasonably hope ever to see the end of. (quoted in Southam, Critical Heritage, v.1, 84)

  1. Edinburgh Magazine & Literary Miscellany, May 1818, an unsigned notice (Mary Waldron corrects the common error that this was in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine). The writer calls Austen an “amiable and agreeable authoress,” that she…

will be one of the most popular of English novelists” and “within a certain limited range, has attained the highest perfection of the art of novel writing…We think we are reading the history of people whom we have seen thousands of times – with much observation, much fine sense, much delicate humour, many pathetic touches, and throughout all her works, a most charitable view of human nature, and a tone of gentleness and purity.”

All ends with my favorite line of any critic: “…novels as they are, and filled with accounts of balls and plays, and such adbominations…” !

  1. Gentleman’s Magazine, July 1818, notice / obituary. Southam quotes these words on NA and P:

The two Novels now published have no connection with each other. The characters in both are principally taken from the middle ranks of lie, and are well supported. Northanger Abbey, however is decidedly preferable to the second Novel, not only in the incidents, but even in its moral tendency. (16)

  1. Quarterly Review, January 1821, unsigned review but attributed to Richard Whately, the Archbishop of Dublin.

Whately reviews all the novels, Austin [sic] for him a serious writer whose “moral lessons, though clearly and impressively conveyed, are not offensively put forward, but spring incidentally from the circumstances of the story…that unpretending kind of instruction which is furnished by real life…her fables nearly faultless.” After a humorous take on John Thorpe in Northanger Abbey as “the Bang-up Oxonian,” Whately concludes with an analysis of romantic love as portrayed in Persuasion, and calling it her most superior work, “one of the most elegant fictions of common life we ever remember to have met with.”

As Southam points out, none of these early critics and readers “were ready to accept her disconcerting account of the ways and values of their own society” and therefore failed to “identify the force and point of her satire.” (Southam, Critical Heritage, 18) Such was left to future generations!

And this great bulk of modern criticism and commentary continues to enlighten us – and does so right here on Sarah Emsley’s blog with an array of writers who will offer interesting and insightful ways to approach Persuasion – the journey starts this week – Check back and join the conversation! 

Sources:

  1. Austen, Jane. Jane Austen’s Letters. 4th ed. Ed. Deirdre Le Faye. Oxford UP, 2011.
  2. _____. The Novels of Jane Austen: the Text Based on Collation of the Early Editions. 3rd ed. Ed. R. W. Chapman. Vol. V, Northanger Abbey & Persuasion, Oxford, 1933. [with revisions]  Introductory material
  3. _____. Persuasion. Ed. James Kinsley. Introd. Deidre Shauna Lynch. Oxford UP, 2008.
  4. Clery, E. J. Jane Austen: The Banker’s Sister. Biteback, 2017.
  5. Cossy, Valerie, and Diego Saglia. “Translations.” In Todd, 169-81.
  6. Gilson, David. A Bibliography of Jane Austen. Oak Knoll, 1997.
  7. Johnson, Claudia L., and Clara Tuite, ed. A Companion to Jane Austen. Wiley-Blackwell, 2012.
  8. Le Faye, Deirdre. Jane Austen: The World of her Novels. Frances Lincoln, 2002.
  9. Raven, James. “Book Production.” In Todd. 194-203.
  10. Southam, Brian. Jane Austen and the Navy. 2nd ed. National Maritime Museum, 2005.
  11. _____, ed. Jane Austen: The Critical Heritage, Vol. I, 1811-1870. Routledge, 1979.
  12. Sutherland, Kathryn. “Chronology of Composition and Publication.” In Todd, 12-22. (See also Sutherland’s Jane Austen’s Textual Lives. Oxford, 2005)
  13. Todd, Janet, ed. Jane Austen in Context. Cambridge, 2007. See essays cited separately.
  14. Waldron, Mary. “Critical Responses, Early.” In Todd, 83-91.
c2018, Jane Austen in Vermont