Collecting Jane Austen: The Letters

Jane Austen to Cassandra, from Sloan St London, 25 April 1811 – British Library

Jane Austen’s Letters are an absolute must-have in your collection. There is nothing like reading these late at night, Jane Austen hovering over your shoulder. Considered rather mundane by the scholarly world when they first appeared – filled as they are with local gossip, fashion and food news, the periodic snide comment about friends and neighbors, and very little about her reading and writing – they have in succeeding years been picked over, and picked over again, to find the minutest insight into Austen and her world.

I find them a pure delight – seeing Austen as she was, mostly in missives to her sister, but also to her brothers, her friends, and publishers – it is like being inside her head at any given moment as she shares her thoughts, observations, and very caustic wit about the goings-on around her – a participant, but always the objective, sometimes judgmental, observer…

One-hundred and sixty letters remain from what has been surmised to have been thousands Austen likely wrote. Cassandra’s “great conflagration” before her own death in 1845 saw the destruction of who knows what else Austen had to say about her own life  – the gaps in dates give the reader such a sense of loss – what happened in those intervening days and years?? – and thus the fabric of novels is made. Of these 160 extant letters, most are scattered around various institutions or remain in private hands – location of each is noted in Le Faye’s exhaustive work.

This example of just her signature sold for over $16,000 in 2017!

So which of the published Letters to have??

Well, a true collector should have them all – you can find a good list in Gilson at G, a mere 8 pages (1982 ed.) with an additional three pages in the revised edition of 1997. While having them all would be a collector’s dream, you at least must have the 4th ed. by Le Faye if you are to understand anything at all about Jane Austen. But here is my list of the basic should-haves:

1. 1817: Henry Austen’s “Biographical Notice” postscript dated 20 December 1817 – Henry included a few extracts from her letters in this notice that appeared in the first edition of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion (London: John Murray, 1818).

2. 1870: James Edward Austen-Leigh, A Memoir of Jane Austen (London: Bentley, 1870) – includes extracts and some letters in their entirety.

Frontispiece to the Memoir – the prettified Jane

3. 1884: The Letters of Jane Austen, edited with an introduction and critical remarks by Edward, Lord Brabourne (London: Bentley, 1884). Edward Knatchbull-Hugessen, son of Austen’s niece Fanny Knight, published 96 of the letters left to him by his mother – mostly includes letters to Cassandra, but also to Fanny, Anna Lefroy, and the two letters written by Cassandra on Austen’s death.

You can read them all here: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Letters_of_Jane_Austen_(Brabourne)
or here: https://pemberley.com/janeinfo/brablets.html

For a fascinating history of an Austen family-owned and annotated copy of these Letters, you can read Edith Lank’s account of her copy here:

“Family and Scholarly Annotations in Lord Brabourne’s Letters: Adventures of an Amateur Academic,” by Edith Lank. Persuasions 30 (2008): 76-87 – citation only, full–text unavailable.

But Lank also made a list of all the annotations online in POL 29.1 (2008), which you can read here: http://www.jasna.org/persuasions/on-line/vol29no1/lank.html

4. 1906: Jane Austen’s Sailor Brothers, by John Henry Hubback and Edith Charlotte Hubback (London: John Lane, 1906) – this biography of Francis and Charles Austen includes for the first time Jane’s letters to her sailor brothers.

5. 1913: Jane Austen: Her Life and Letters, A Family Record, by William Austen-Leigh and Richard Arthur Austen-Leigh (London: Smith-Elder, 1913) – quoted from all the letters known at that time.

6. 1924: Five Letters from Jane Austen to her Niece Fanny Knight, printed in facsimile (Oxford: Clarendon, 1924) – the full text of the letters from Austen to her niece (they were incompletely printed in Brabourne’s collection.

7. 1925: The Letters of Jane Austen, selected with an introduction by R. Brimley Johnson (London: John Lane, 1925) – a selection of 44 letters from the Brabourne Letters, The Sailor Brothers, and the Austen-Leigh Life.

Chapman, Letters, 1932

8. 1932: Jane Austen’s Letters to Her Sister Cassandra, collected and edited by R. W. Chapman (Oxford: Clarendon, 1932) – the first definitive edition, printed from the actual manuscripts where possible with those letters not accessible taken from Brabourne. There was a 2nd ed. published in 1952 with the addition of 6 more letters but few other changes. Chapman also published a selection of the letters (about one-third) in 1955, and again in 1985 with an introduction by Marilyn Butler.

9. 1981: Five Letters from Jane Austen to Her Sister Cassandra, 1813, with an introduction by David Gilson (Brisbane: Lock’s Press, 1981) – a limited edition of 60 copies.

10. 1990: Jane Austen’s Manuscript Letters in Facsimile, edited by Jo Modert (Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1990 – a reproduction of all letters that could be located – the introduction is invaluable and seeing each letter in its original state is fascinating.

11. 1990: My Dear Cassandra…a collection of Jane Austen’s Letters selected and introduced by Penelope Hughes-Hallett (London: Collins and Brown, 1990) – letters selected from the Brabourne Letters, not complete, but it does include many fabulous contemporary illustrations.

12. 1992: “Seven letters from Austen to Francis and Charles” published as a keepsake for those at the JASNA AGM (Alto Loma: Bookhaven Press, 1992) – a miniature booklet limited to 300 copies, these were given to attendees of the 1992 AGM in Santa Monica, CA – the theme was “The Letters, Focusing on Travel and the Sea.”

13. 1995: Jane Austen’s Letters, New Edition, collected and edited by Deirdre Le Faye (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1995) – a 3rd edition of the Chapman Letters but with Le Faye’s ceaseless and energetic scholarship into those not fully identified by Chapman as well as the addition of 12 more letters – Le Faye’s notes are mine of information on provenance, current location of each letter (if known), every detail on people and places and allusions are noted; includes biographical and topographical indexes. The lacking full subject indexes found in Chapman were added into the 4th edition (see below)…

There is also a fine publication of this 1995 edition by the Folio Society:

14. 2004: Selected Letters [of Jane Austen], selected with an introduction and notes by Vivien Jones (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2004) – based on the 3rd ed. of the letters by Deirdre Le Faye from 1995. You need these paperback editions so you have something to write-in and underline (!).

14. 2011: Jane Austen’s Letters, 4th ed., collected and edited by Deirdre Le Faye (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2011; paperback ed. 2014) – no new letters have been discovered since the 1995 ed, but much additional information has been added regarding Austen’s life and her endless references in the letters. Indexes and notes have been updated, as well as the addition of the all-important Subject Index.

There are other editions out there – I also have the small Oxford World Classics blue hardcover of Chapman Letters with the dust jacket, not often seen – if you should find this, buy it immediately…

[Please note: Our house is being renovated and all my books are packed up – so while some of these images are mine, I had to also mine the internet for others!]

Do you have a favorite edition of the Letters??

©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:

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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

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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…]

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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/

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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

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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

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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.

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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

Collecting Jane Austen: R. W. Chapman’s 1923 Oxford edition of the Novels

1923 large paper ed. with the 1932 Letters – 7 vols – with frontispiece to ‘Emma’: Ball Dress from Ackermann’s Repository, October 1816 [Louella Kerr Books]

I mentioned in the first post on collecting Jane Austen, that the Oxford edition of the novels edited by R. W. Chapman is essential, so now a little history.

Here is how David Gilson annotated this edition in his Bibliography under the year1923:

E150. The Novels of Jane Austen: the text based on collation of the early editions by R. W. Chapman. With notes, indexes and illustrations from contemporary sources. 5 volumes. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1923. 1000 sets …

And then goes on for 5 pages [p. 296-300].

Gilson notes an undated memorandum in the files of the Clarendon Press: “The publishers are bitterly opposed to any imaginative illustrations, and would cheerfully have no illustrations at all.  But they would be in favor of a few objective illustrations.”

“They” were perhaps responding to Henry James who had famously complained that the public’s enthusiasm for Jane Austen was being aided and abetted “by a body of publishers, editors and illustrators who find their dear, our dear, everybody’s dear, Jane, so infinitely to their material purpose, so amenable to pretty reproduction in every variety of what is called tasteful, … and what proves to be saleable form.”

Chapman did choose “objective” illustrations – from contemporary sources that Jane Austen would have been familiar with: the landscape, art, architecture, fashion, carriages, etc. of the time period. The lists of appendices (essays on the times, Austen’s language, chronologies and Index of Characters, etc.) and the illustrations found in all 5 volumes are repeated in each volume.

Here is the list of all the illustrations:

Only 1000 sets were printed, 950 for sale – the value of this 1st edition set is about $1,500 and is described as the “Large Paper Edition” by booksellers. The set pictured above included the 1934 2-volumes Letters and sold for $5,500 a few years ago [not to me unfortunately!]

Some of the contemporary illustrations that Chapman chose we are all now quite familiar with – here are just 3 examples:

From P: A Landaulet by Mr. Birch. Ackermann’s Repository, March 1818

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There are various re-printings of this Oxford set and buyer beware as to what you are getting – here’s a quick analysis:

The set was reissued in 1926 and though called a “Second edition,” it was really just a reprint on cheaper paper and less elaborate illustrations. A note to this edition and some additional notes by Chapman are included.

1926 – 2nd edition covers and title page [Charles Bossom , Abebooks]

In 1933, the 5 volumes were re-printed again as a “Third edition” but the text was printed from the same plates, so not officially a 3rd ed at all.

After various re-printings [see Gilson’s notes on these], the Oxford set was issued in 1965-66, now called the official 3rd edition – same text but with alterations to notes etc. by Mary Lascelles based on Chapman’s notes.  Chapman had issued the Minor Works volume in 1954, and the set has been the 6 volumes ever since.

1950s printing with volume 6, the Minor Works [1st published in 1954]
Oxford ed, 1988 printing – $175. [but you can find it for less]

Just to give you an idea of the confusing publishing history and the possible printings out there, here is the copyright notice in one of my sets, the 1988 printing you see above:

This Chapman set was the first to offer complete scholarly notes and textual analysis for an English author and has been the source for citation ever since. The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen, with Janet Todd as General Editor and each of the novels edited by a different Austen scholar, began publishing in 2005 [it is now complete in 8 volumes with Juvenilia and Later Manuscripts included.] This has begun to supersede the Oxford set for citation purposes. You really need them both, as daunting as that might be! More on this Cambridge set in another post.

Frontis to ‘Lovers’ Vows’ in the Oxford ‘Mansfield Park’

What is your favorite set of the Novels??

©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:

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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

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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

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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

Collecting Jane Austen ~ Gilson’s Bibliography

My plan: to post each week a book by or about Jane Austen that a collector should have in their growing library. The post that follows was first posted in August 2010, but I must start with this Gilson Bibliography because if your plan is to actively collect Jane Austen, this book is your starting point, an absolute must-have. I hope each week to give short snippets on the various books in my own collection, as well as books that never made it to my shelves but should be there…I welcome your comments on what your favorite books are, the essentials in your collection, or any questions you might have about how to go about starting such a collection. It’s a lifetime endeavor!

Gilson, David.  A Bibliography of Jane AustenNew Introduction and Corrections by the Author.  Winchester: St. Paul’s Bibliographies  / New Castle, Delaware: Oak Knoll Press, 1997.

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

 I am often asked what I would consider the most important book to add to ones own “Jane Austen Library.”  Primary sources of course, the Chapman Oxford set of all the novels, minor works, juvenilia, etc – these volumes remain the source for citation in any scholarly work.  The new Cambridge edition is lovely [and now thankfully in paperback and more affordable], and this edition of the works has begun to supplant the Chapman for citation purposes – so, you really need both…[more on this in a future post].

But after that, what?   I would choose and most highly recommend David Gilson’s Bibliography of Jane Austen.  Originally published in 1982, Gilson had set out to revise and update the Sir Geoffrey Keynes’ 1929 Nonesuch Press Austen bibliography, after discovering the lack of information in the Keynes relating to the early American editions of Austen’s works.  Gilson wrote about these and other discoveries of the various early translations in his articles for The Book Collector.  At Keynes’ suggestion, Gilson began a second edition but found it best to present a whole new work based on Keynes but with much additional information and to include the work of Chapman in his 1955 Austen bibliography.  The 1997 edition is not a revision of the 1982 work but does include a new introduction, corrections, some additions, and a brief bibliographic essay on material published since 1978It is less physically attractive and lacks the frontispiece illustrations of the 1st edition, but I consider this very comprehensive work [at 877 pages!] the starting point for all Austen research. Gilson writes a very informative essay prefacing each of the twelve chapters, includes a chronological listing of editions and reprints and an exhaustive index that links back to all the entries.

I offer here a brief capsule of each of these chapters, essentially a list of what to collect:  

A.  The Original Editions:  Gilson follows the principles set down by Philip Gaskell in his New Introduction to Bibliography [1972] and the entry for each original edition is exhaustive: full bibliographical details of the physical book [title; collation; contents; technical notes on the paper, printing, headlines, chapter headings and endings, binding; etc]; its publishing history; reviews and contemporary comments; later publishing history; auction records [fascinating!]; listing of copies examined; and other copies known to exist. [I LOVE this stuff!] 

B.  First American Editions:  as Austen mentions nothing about foreign editions of her work, Gilson assumes she knew nothing about the Emma that was published by Matthew Carey in 1816, a very rare edition, and unknown of by the earlier bibliographers – [Gilson B1].  Gilson again gives full bibliographical data as for the original editions, noting the textual variations in punctuation and spelling. 

C. Translations:  as Gilson states, despite that “JA’s opinion of the French seems not to have been high [citing her letter of Sept  8, 1816]…the French first paid her the compliment of translating her novels in 1813 and 1815.” [Gilson, p. 135]  Same full bibliographic details here for the various translations. 

D.  Editions Published by Richard Bentley:  no reissue of Austen’s novels is known after 1818 until 1832 when Richard Bentley decided to include them in his series of Standard Novels [quoting Chapman].  The copyrights had been sold to him by Cassandra for £210 and the P&P copyright was purchased from Egerton for £40.  [Gilson, p. 211]  Covers all the Bentley editions through 1882, with bibliographical details. 

E.  Later Editions and Selections:  lists “as far as it has been practicable” all other later editions of the novels from the 1830s onwards, with cursory bibliographical details and a focus on the statistical details for these editions, excepting the “textually significant edition edited by Chapman (E150)” [Gilson, p. 238] – there are 425 entries in this section. 

F.  Minor Works:  great literary history here! – with complete bibliographical details for Lady Susan, The Watsons, Charades, Love & Freindship, Sanditon, “Plan of a Novel”, Persuasion chapters, Prayers, the Juvenilia, etc. 

G.  Letters:  Brabourne, Bodley Head, Chapman editions, Le Faye coming later [the 3rd edition, in 1995, 4th ed. in 2011] 

H.  Dramatisations:  Gilson states that in 1929 Keynes could only find three dramatic adaptations, but fifty are listed here, and only those that are published works, and surprise of surprises, P&P being the most popular. [Gilson, p. 405]

J.  Continuations and Completions  [there is no “I” section]:  Gilson lists 14, adds a good number in his 1997 update, but since then the world has been inundated with all manner of sequels, prequels, and mash-ups –  this chapter is a good starting point for some of the less known early sequels that have gotten lost in the back room library stacks – some are quite good [Brinton and Bonavia-Hunt for example]

K.  Books Owned by Jane Austen:  there is much evidence of what Austen actually read – in Chapman’s indexes and other studies on literary influences on her – but as Gilson states, “the actual copies prove more elusive” [p. 431], so these twenty entries listed are noted in some way to have been subscribed to by her or inscribed in some way – the essay here is very informative and great to learn of the provenance of some of these titles Austen owned and read.  [Note:  I have set up a page in the Bibliography section on this blog titled Jane Austen’s Reading ~ a Bibliography –  a list of all the books that Austen owned or is known to have read, compiled from various sources – it makes a great reading list! ]

L. Miscellaneous:  the ever-needed catch-all and quite a little find, as Gilson says “unclassifiable miscellanea (with yet a curious fascination of their own!) [p. 449] – for example, an Elizabeth Goudge short story “Escape for Jane”, a romanticized re-telling of the Harris Bigg-Wither episode (L24), a number of works adapted for children, and a few works on the Leigh-Perrot trial.

M.  Biography and Criticism:  everything from 1813 on, to include books, journal articles, reviews, etc, chronologically arranged and annotated [though not consistently], 1814 items in total, with a bibliographical essay in the updated version to touch on recent resources, ALL examined by Gilson personally.  No words here to adequately explain this section – just an amazing piece of scholarship –

Appendix:  a chronological listing of all editions, reprints and and adaptations of JA’s works recorded in the bibliography

Index:  pp. 753-877 – exhaustive!

… but here of course is where any printed book falls short – before it hits the stands, it is outdated. Recent efforts to keep Austen bibliography current have been largely produced by Barry Roth in his three works:

  • Roth, Barry and Joel Clyde Weinsheimer.  An Annotated Bibliography of Jane Austen Studies, 1952-1972.  Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1973.
  • Roth, Barry. An Annotated Bibliography of Jane Austen Studies, 1973-1983.  Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1985.
  • __________.  An Annotated Bibliography of Jane Austen Studies, 1984-1994.  Ohio University Press, 1996.

The annual “Jane Austen Bibliography” in the JASNA journals Persuasions and Persuasions On-Line began in 1993, first by Patricia Latkin, then by Latkin and Barry Roth, then by Roth alone, followed by yours truly from 2007-2018, and since by Carol Grigas, Lise Snyder, and Claire Bellanti. Starting with the 2020 bibliography, Eileen Horansky has joined the team.

NEWS ALERT! JASNA has just made all of them easily accessible from one starting point – you can find all the bibliographies by year right here: http://jasna.org/publications-2/bibliographies/

The Internet gives us such immediate access to journals and books, tons of bibliographies, etc. – this has made all of us capable of being completely on top of everything every minute of the day – but for me, there is nothing quite like going to my Gilson to get back to those earlier days of bibliography, when a scholar such as he lovingly handled each work and made the effort to describe with such fullness each edition so it may become present before you and thus we are brought a little bit closer to the Austen we all love and admire – indeed, we can feel as excited as she did upon receipt of her own first copy of Pride & Prejudice as she exclaimed to Cassandra I want to tell you that I have got my own darling Child from London “ [Le Faye, Letter 79, p. 201]

If you don’t have this book, get it – it makes for fascinating reading! [I confess to being a librarian and I know we are all a little bit weird about this bibliography and classification thing, but this book will give you much to ponder, trust me…]

Further Reading:

  • Chapman, R.W.  Jane Austen:  A Critical Bibliography. 2nd ed.  London: Oxford University Press, 1969.
  • Keynes, Geoffrey.  Jane Austen:  A Bibliography.  NY:  Burt Franklin, 1968 [originally published in London, 1929]
  • The Roth bibliographies noted above 
  • JASNA annual “Jane Austen Bibliography”: http://jasna.org/publications-2/bibliographies/
  • JAS Reports: many issues include an annual “Jane Austen Studies” and are now fully accessible online here at Archive.org: https://archive.org/details/@jane_austen_society

A few other sources, mostly Gilson [not a complete list]:

  • Gilson, David.  “Auction Sales,” in A Jane Austen Companion, ed. J. David Grey.  NY:  Macmillan, 1986.  See also his “Editions and Publishing History,” “Obituaries, “ and “Verses” in this same volume.
  • ____________. “Books and Their Owners: Some Early American Editions of Jane Austen.” Book Collector 48 (1999): 238-41.
  • ___________. “The Early American Editions of Jane Austen.”  The Book Collector 18 (1969): 340-52.
  • ___________. “Henry Austen’s ‘Memoir of Miss Austen,” Persuasions 19 (1997):12-19.
  • ___________. “Later Publishing History with Illustrations” in Jane Austen in Context, ed. Janet Todd. The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen, Cambridge University Press, 2005.      
  • ____________.  Putting Jane Austen in Order.  Persuasions 17 (1995):12-15
  • ____________.  “Serial Publication of Jane Austen in French,” The Book Collector 23 (1974): 547-50.
  • Latkin, Patricia.  “Looking for Jane in All the Wrong Places: Collecting Books in Gilson’s Category J.”   Persuasions 15 (1993):  63-68.       

[Image from Ackermann’s via hibiscus-sinensis.com]

©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.

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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…]

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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:

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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.

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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

JASNA-Vermont Welcomes JASNA President Liz Philosophos Cooper! ~ Sept 15, 2019, 2-4 pm

You are Cordially Invited to
JASNA-Vermont’s September Meeting

Liz Philosophos Cooper

[image: Jane Austen’s writing table at the Jane Austen House Museum]

Jane Austen was a working woman and a determined professional writer. This illustrated talk will explore Austen’s involvement in the business of publishing novels during a time of rampant financial instability. The Austen family were active participants in both war and finance and these two sectors intertwined in the story of Jane Austen’s writing and publishing.

Sunday, 15 September 2019, 2-4 pm
Temple Sinai, 500 Swift St., South Burlington
(Corner of Swift and Dorset)

Liz Philosophos Cooper is the President of JASNA. Liz is a second-generation JASNA member who fell in love with Austen’s work as a high school student. A member since 1992, she has actively participated in local JASNA activities, served as JASNA’s Vice-President for Regions from 2013-2018, and was Regional Coordinator of Wisconsin prior to that. A popular speaker, she is a contributing writer to Jane Austen’s Regency World and co-edits the A Year with Jane Austen calendar. Her talk from the Washington DC JASNA Annual General Meeting, “The Apothecary and the Physician: Emma’s Mr. Perry” was published in Persuasions 38.

Liz holds a BA (Communication Arts) from the University of Wisconsin. She worked in marketing before taking time off to raise four sons. Literature has always been a part of Liz’s life: she began a Village book group in 1986 that is still going strong, and a Junior Great Books reading program at the local elementary school. She has been an active volunteer in the community, including serving as President of the Village of Shorewood Hills Foundation for many years.

~ Free & open to the public ~ Light refreshments served ~

For more information: JASNAVTregion@gmail.com 
Please visit our blog at: http://JaneAustenInVermont.blog

Hope to see you there!

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Upcoming meeting December 8, Annual Birthday Tea: “What did she say? – Just what she ought…”: Proposals in Jane Austen with Hope Greenberg & Deb Barnum (and film clips!). Plus, dancing with Val Medve and the Burlington Country Dancers, and a Full English Tea at the Essex Resort and Spa. Click here for the Dec Tea 2019-Reservation form-NEW: Deadline for registering and payment is September 20, 2019.


c2019 Jane Austen in Vermont