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, Persuasion, 1898: The Fall! / The Letter!
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…]
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…
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 Prejudice, Mr. 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??!
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!
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!]
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:
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?
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.
“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:
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:
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??
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.”
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 alllove 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…
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:
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
American Book Prices Current: auction sales, so actual value
Bookseller catalogues: what titles are selling for
Author and subject bibliographies
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.” 
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 Bookshttps://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
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
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
Specific Publishers: Bentley, Macmillan, Dent, Oxford, Folio Society, LLC, Penguin, etc.
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…(!)
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.
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 Booksand 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 Sawwherein 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.
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
Not too much this week, as I have had company, and as it should, internet cruising takes a back seat. But this latest finds blog post starts with an Austen on the Block! – then moves on to Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, nursery rhymes, John Steinbeck, and various things about books ….
First and foremost: Austen on the Block!
An interesting set of Jane Austen’s novels (a 1854 reprint of the Bentley set of 1833) that was owned by Austen’s niece Fanny Catherine Knatchbull is up for auction on March 28, 2019 at Forum Auctions in the UK:
Austen (Jane) Novels, 6 vol. in 5, reprint of first collected edition, engraved frontispiece to each vol. but lacking half-titles and additional engraved vignette titles, vol.1 with presentation inscription from F.C. Knatchbull to her daughter Louisa dated 1856 (in Louisa’s hand) and remaining vol. with ownership signature of Louisa to front free endpaper, contemporary half calf, spines gilt with double morocco labels (3 lacking, a few chipped), rubbed, 8vo, Richard Bentley, 1833 [but c.1854]
A lovely association copy, once owned by Jane Austen’s favourite niece. Estimate is £4,000 – £6,000
A new website “Shakespeare Census” has been launched: it is a database that attempts to locate and describe all extant copies of all editions of Shakespeare’s works through 1700 (excluding the four folio editions). Visit https://shakespearecensus.org/homepage
Each play or poem has a logo – this is the one for Romeo & Juliet
The Ides of March is upon us (March 15th), and so this is interesting news:
Assassination of Julius Caesar, by William Sullivan (ArtUK)
This edition from 1822 sold at auction in 2014 for $12,500!:
Songs for the Nursery, Collected From the Works of the Most Renowned Poets, and Adapted To Favourite National Melodies. London: Printed [By R. & A. Taylor] For William Darton, 1822. Estimate $ 6,000 — 8,000
“The Supreme Court issued a ruling on March 9, 1841, freeing the remaining thirty-five survivors of the Amistad mutiny. Although seven of the nine justices on the court hailed from Southern states, only one dissented from Justice Joseph Story’s majority opinion. Private donations ensured the Africans’ safe return to Sierra Leone in January 1842.”
Image: Joseph Cinquez, the Brave Congolese Chief…
[Drawn by James or Isaac Sheffield]; Moses Yale Beach, lith.;
Boston: Joseph A. Arnold, c1839
“Dated April 5, 1768, the simple printed broadside shown below lays down the ‘Rules…’ that apply to those wishing to use the Circulating Library in Ashbo[u]rne in Derbyshire.
As well as a joining fee of 7/6d, library users were charged six shillings a year for membership, payable in two instalments. They were also entitled to attend quarterly meetings at The Green Man or other designated venue to propose, discuss and vote on what new books might be purchased for the library.
Anyone keeping a book out on loan for longer than what had been agreed on as a reasonable period was liable to a fine of tuppence a day.
All users are reminded “…not to lend any Library Book out of his Dwelling-House on any Pretence whatever.”
Various finds this past week on the ever-amazing internet, from Dickens to Tolkein, Marie Antoinette to The Devil in the White City, and Robert Louis Stevenson to Gretna Green …. enjoy the reading journey!
-Francis John Stainforth (1797-1866), an Anglican clergyman, collected a unique private library during the mid-nineteenth century. His library catalog lists 7,726 editions (8,804 volumes) authored and edited by 3,721 writers, nearly all of whom are women – but alas! No Jane Austen!
an academic conundrum – and example perhaps of scholars trading assumptions for statements of fact and how that can muddle the truth…
You all know this already, but Erik Larson’s Devil in the White City is being made into a Hulu TV series with Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese as executive producers – will DiCaprio star in one of the roles do you think?? The architect or the evil Doctor?? This book had completely freaked me out when I read it back in 2003 – the story is frightful enough, but Holmes, the serial killer, ended up in Burlington Vermont on the same street where I lived!’- thankfully 100 years before, but still…. I was reading it late at night, read that bit, screamed like a banshee, scared my sleeping husband half to death – neighbors surely thought another murder was taking place… We read this for my book group – one woman could only read the chapters about the fair, completely skipped over the nasty doings – and ok to do really – the story of the fair and its architect is fascinating in itself.
-Years ago a friend and I visited the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington CT – of course there was a framed Victorian hair art on the wall – it all struck us funny and we started giggling and could not stop – spent the entire tour of the house not so quietly making a scene – I do not think I am allowed back…and all because of that creepy hair…
Let’s hope they find fingerprints they can identify on that perfume bottle!
The hardest thing for me as a bookstore owner was the theft of books – always done by someone who knew the shop and certainly knew the value of what he/she was sneaking off with – I lost some very valuable titles over the years – in many ways, it finally did me in with having an open shop…
Portrait of Muhammad Dervish Khan, Elisabeth-Louise Vigee Le Brun. 1788
A painting by Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun, the 18th / 19th century portrait artist mostly noted for her paintings of Marie Antoinette, has reached the highest auction sale price for a female artist – $7.2 million!
[This painting caused quite a stir: Marie Antoinette in a Muslin Dress – alas! she was in muslin, not the proper regal attire suitable for a Queen…]
This week finds me jumping from Jane Austen’s sister-in-law Fanny Austen, to crazy bibliophiles, Rossetti’s wombats, the Coloring craze, Princess Margaret, and on to London, muons (whatever they are…), and more of course – it’s a mad world of information out there…
A new website and blog by Sheila Johnson Kindred, where she will explore Jane Austen’s naval world. Kindred is the author of Jane Austen’s Transatlantic Sister: The Life and Letters of Fanny Palmer Austen: https://www.sheilajohnsonkindred.com/
-which led me to this: https://franceswolfrestonhorbouks.com/, a blog by Sarah Lindenbaum, who is seeking to reconstruct the book collection of Frances Wolfreston (1607-1677), a gentrywoman from the English midlands with an expansive library; over 200 books have been identified thus far.
A new chamber in the Great Pyramid? If you know what a “muon” is, you might know that the use of muon technology has revealed an as yet undiscovered chamber in the Great Pyramid, where remaining treasures may lie: https://blog.oup.com/2019/02/power-mysterious-muon/
Here’s a bit of a head-scratcher: with thanks to Tony Grant:
The article shows a letter from Jane Austen to Cassandra that Ms. Watson has transcribed; but she states: “You can actually see how they have changed their manuscript – how Jane Austen changed Pride and Prejudice as she’s writing it… That blows my mind a bit. You see it, and you think – that’s so much better after she’s edited it than before.”
Well, I’m sorry but as far as I know there are no manuscripts of Pride and Prejudice, or any of the other 5 novels other than the cancelled chapters of Persuasion – so this is very interesting if she has been transcribing a P&P manuscript??
An 1800 letter from Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra
“Dorothea’s Daughter is a stunning new collection of short stories based on novels by Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and Thomas Hardy. They are postscripts, rather than sequels, entering into dialogues with the original narratives by developing suggestions in the text. The authors’ conclusions are respected, with no changes made to the plot; instead, Barbara Hardy draws out loose threads in the original fabric to weave new material, imagining moments in the characters’ future lives.”
The stories are:
Twilight in Mansfield Parsonage (Mansfield Park by Jane Austen)
Mrs Knightley’s Invitation (Emma by Jane Austen)
Adèle Varens (Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë)
Lucy Snowe and Paulina Bretton: the Conversation of Women (Villette by Charlotte Brontë)
Edith Dombey and Son (Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens)
Harriet Beadle’s Message (Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens)
Lucy Deane (The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot)
Dorothea’s Daughter (Middlemarch by George Eliot)
’Liza-Lu Durbeyfield (Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy)
Has anyone read this? It was first published in 2011. I’ve just ordered it and will let you know my thoughts…
Thanks for visiting… and Happy Reading…
ps: just a note as to why I leave in the full url of each link: if an imbedded link goes bad or far off into cyberspace, it is easier to find it if you have the details in the url – it doesn’t look as pretty, sorry to say, but more helpful in the end..
“This exhibition brings back to Strawberry Hill some of the most important masterpieces in Horace Walpole’s famous and unique collection for a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition. Horace Walpole’s collection was one of the most important of the 18th century. It was dispersed in a great sale in 1842. For the first time in over 170 years, Strawberry Hill can be seen as Walpole conceived it, with the collection in the interiors as he designed it, shown in their original positions.”