Pump Rooms and Gothic Terrors: How “Northanger Abbey” Came to Be

Today is Jane Austen’s birthday, and what better way to celebrate than to begin Sarah Emsley’s blog series on “ Youth and Experience: Northanger Abbey and Persuasion – a collection of essays by various scholars and Austen bloggers to be posted over the next several months – today starting here with a post on the very bumpy convoluted journey of Northanger Abbey into print. Austen would be 242; her Northanger Abbey and Persuasion joint publication will be 200 on December 2oth. Lots of reasons to celebrate!

As we begin this bicentennial celebration of the publication of Northanger Abbey (along with its companion Persuasion) we must first give full voice to how this publication came to be. And what we find are lots of questions, much scholarly debate on when Austen wrote it, when and how much she revised it, and why it sat around for so long before seeing the light of day. This publishing journey of NA is a fascinating story, pieced together by scholars from Austen’s letters, extant publisher records, and a good deal of speculation. And we still have a host of unanswered questions…

But first, I’d like to tell the story of my first reading what has been labeled the least-liked of Austen’s novels:

I did not read it until about 27 years ago; it was the one Austen book I had sought to avoid (all that bad PR)…when I first read it I was sorely disappointed and thought it silly, and Henry a condescending boor; I read it exactly one year later for a seminar, and found it quite funny, almost laugh-out-loud funny, and Henry quite charming. I read it again several years later and just enjoyed it thoroughly, finding more humor and more depth in every sentence; and now, after reading it a good number of times more, very close readings, even Underlining (I NEVER do this!), and re-reading sentences, looking up all references, etc., I have to say that I LOVE this book, there is so much in it, so very funny, so very serious in its lessons, and Henry is quite to die for!  So many people I talked to about this book have said that they either have not read it, or didn’t like it when they did (I tell everyone that you must read it at least three times)…. and then there are the few that have read it and re-read it and find that this novel, really Austen’s tribute to the Novel and Reading (one must note that in addition to the nine “horrid” novels discussed by Isabella and Catherine, there are a total of twenty-two references to books:  novels, histories, landscape sources, philosophy, Shakespeare, etc. ….!), is quite an amazing literary jewel! Indeed, it has four of my all-time favorite quotes:

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Visiting the “Emma at 200” Exhibition at Chawton House Library ~ Guest Post by Tony Grant

Gentle Readers: Today I welcome Tony Grant as he writes about his visit this week to the “EMMA 200” exhibit at Chawton House Library, he being my feet on the ground so to speak as I am woefully not able to be there myself. Hope those of you who are able to go will do so – and send me pictures and your thoughts when you do!

[Update: please read Tony Grant’s post about walking around Chawton at the “Jane Austen’s World” Blog]

Emma at 200 - CHL PR

EMMA 200: English Village to Global Appeal

(Chawton House Library 21st March – 25th September 2016)

On Wednesday 20th April I drove from Wimbledon to Chawton in Hampshire over the Hogs Back with views stretching across Surrey into the distance. It was a bright sunny day and seeing the Surrey countryside green and pleasant and shining in the bright sunshine under blue skies was appropriate for my adventure. I was driving to Chawton House Library to visit the “Emma 200 exhibition.” Emma is Jane Austen’s Surrey novel and this year is the 200th anniversary of its publication and it is entirely set within that county.

Emma-tp-wpEmma was published by John Murray II of Albemarle Street on the 23rd December 1815, although its title page reads 1816. This exhibition has items from Chawton House’s own collection and from the Knight family collection, as well as other items on loan. The exhibition covers the reception of Emma through the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty first centuries; it also considers the country setting of the novel and the places that were possible influences. It covers the global appeal of Emma. It has a large section about John Murray II and nineteenth century publishing practices through letters and comments made by Jane herself and fellow authoresses also published by Murray. It highlights authors mentioned in the novel and nineteenth century ideas about female accomplishments such as music, embroidery and painting. It shows the connection with Shakespeare and has a section about the reception of the novel. In particular, there is a letter written by Charlotte Bronte to her own publisher, W.S. Williams, discussing her thoughts about Emma and Jane Austen as a writer.

I arrived at the electronically operated gates early. The house opens at 1.30pm Monday to Friday. I was there promptly at 1.10pm. I decided to have a look around and inside of St Nicholas Church nearby, which is Chawton’s parish church and where Jane Austen and her family worshipped. The church we see today is not the church Jane knew. There was a fire sometime after Jane’s death and it had to be rebuilt, though some of the structure from the church that Jane knew remains. I read the memorials to the Austens and Knights within and then went round to the back of the church through an arbor of dark and gloomy ancient yew trees to see the side-by-side graves of Austen’s sister, Cassandra Elizabeth Austen, and mother, Cassandra Austen.

Two Cassandras

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The Great House

Chawton House Library

It was such a nice day and I still had about ten minutes left so I sat on a stone bollard near the entrance gate and watched a gentleman sitting on a motor mower mowing the grass verges along the drive. As I sat there I noticed a smartly dressed lady leaving the front entrance of the great house with a dog on a lead. She approached the gate and opened it, placing a notice board on a stand giving the times and prices of entry. I asked jokingly if this meant I can go in. I pointed out it was still ten minutes to half past. She laughed and said by the time I walked up the driveway I should arrive at the door on time. “Just knock and they will let you in,” she told me. I knocked on the door with five minutes to and it was immediately opened by a smiling lady who ushered me in. The house is staffed by volunteers except in the kitchens where the official housekeeper keeps her domain but more about that nice lady later. I found everybody so enthusiastic and full of smiles and really, extremely welcoming. I paid my entrance fee and one lady took me into the great hall on the left of the entrance and showed me a map of the house with the route marked by numbered rooms. It is a self-guided tour so I was given the map to hold as I went round. There are volunteers in every room who you can talk to and ask information of.

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The exhibition began in the great hall. A glass case displays some first editions dated 1816. There was an edition in French as well as one published by Mathew Carey a publisher in Philadelphia. Somehow Carey had read Sir Walter Scott’s review of Emma and obviously liked it. He sold his version at a much cheaper price than John Murray’s London version. He produced a card backed version printed on cheap paper for $2. Murray’s London version, which was a much better quality, was twice the price. Very few American first editions have survived as a consequence of the poorer quality and the copy in this exhibition shows signs of much yellowing of the paper and black mold spots. It looks an inferior book to both the French and English versions. I felt honoured to able to lean over the glass case and read the opening few lines of the Murray edition.

“Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence:…”

There were no such things as copyright laws in those days and both the French and American versions, probably unknown to Jane Austen, brought her no income. Later in the nineteenth century Dickens went over to America and tried to do something about copyright laws in America but to no avail and to his great consternation. The fact that copies of Emma were being published abroad within the first year of its initial publication in England tells us something about publishing and the book trade at the time. Money could be made from books.

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John Murray - NPG (Wikipedia)

John Murray – NPG (Wikipedia)

John Murray II was the head of the foremost publishing company in Britain. He was a hard headed business man and if he could get an advantage, especially, it seems over the authors he published he would. I think Jane Austen had the measure of him. Her brother Henry who had dealt with publishers for Jane initially became ill and Jane took over negotiations with Murray herself. She was very direct and firm in her dealings. She said of Murray, “He is a Rogue, but a civil one.” In corresponding with Murray over the publication of Emma, for instance, on 3rd of November 1815, a month before the publication of Emma, she writes,

“…I am at the same time desirous of coming to some decision on the affair in question, I must request the favour of you to call on me here, on any day after the present that may suit you best, at any hour in the evening, or any in the morning except from eleven to one. – A short conversation may perhaps do more than much writing.”

It sounds as though Murray has been given his marching orders and she isn’t going to have any truck with being messed about. She is firm but polite with the “Rogue.” She knows the power of a face to face encounter. Some of her contemporaries were perhaps not quite so strong with Murray but learned a lesson.

Domestic Cookery, 1813 ed (Wikipedia)

Domestic Cookery, 1813 ed (Wikipedia)

One of the exhibits on display, putting Jane Austen’s publishing experiences with Murray in context, is a book called Domestic Cookery, published by Murray in 1806. It was very popular and made a lot of sales and presumably a lot of money for Murray. It was written by Maria Rundell. Rundell had been paid £150 by Murray. She regarded Murray as a friend but she was not aware at first that her book had become such a bestseller. When she found out she felt that Murray was not upholding the copyright agreement he had with her. Eventually Murray paid her £2100 but kept the right to continue publishing the book himself. Jane Austen’s comments about him being “a rogue but a civil one” come to mind. Murray was obviously a very astute business man and could make money from trouble.

Another exhibit displays copies of books written by the French authoress, Germaine de Stael. She wrote books about Rousseau, Revolutionary Politics and Marie Antoinette’s trial. She was virtually banned by Napoleon Bonaparte. He had her book, De L’Allemagne pulped. Murray saw a chance. He took her on. In 1813 he used three printers to publish the French original and English translations simultaneously. He relied on anti-French feelings to make Stael’s books best sellers.

Madame_de_Staël (Wikipedia)

Madame_de_Staël (Wikipedia)

Jane Austen had her critics who made both good and not so good comments about her work. She took notice of what people said about her books and noted down these various opinions. Sir Walter Scott, her illustrious contemporary, who was also published by John Murray, wrote of Emma,

“We bestow no mean compliment on the author of Emma, when we say that keeping close to common incidents, and to such characters that occupy the ordinary walks of life, she has produced sketches of such spirit and originality that we never miss the excitation which depends upon a narrative of uncommon events, arising from the consideration of minds, manners and sentiments greatly above our own.”

Sir Walter Scott (Wikipedia)

Sir Walter Scott (Wikipedia)

It appears that Murray regularly sent copies of newly published books to other writers he published for their comments. This can be seen as eliciting positive comments from people who wanted to keep in with Murray. Jane Austen mentions in her letters to Murray how thankful she is for the copy of Waterloo he sent her to read and actually asks him if he has any more she can have a look at. This suggests she knows how to play the publishing game. She is as astute as Murray himself it seems. In one way Scott’s positive comments could be read as keeping in with Murray. If Murray and his publishing house does well and sells lots of books it can only benefit himself after all, but there is more to Scott’s review. I think he has recognized what is original in her writing. She is a realist. Her style is about everyday common occurrences and everyday people and she makes them heroic. People reading Jane Austen can see themselves and people they know in her writing. It is said that reading a novel is good emotional and psychological therapy, and Austen hit a powerful vein.

Bronte-Richmond-wp

Charlotte Bronte (Wikipedia)

The highlight of the whole exhibition for me, even more so than seeing and reading a first edition, is the actual letter Charlotte Bronte wrote to her publisher, W.S. Williams, on April 12, 1850, in which she writes a lengthy paragraph about her thoughts on Jane Austen and Emma. I found it easy to read Bronte’s  small, thin, precise handwriting that flows clearly across the page.

I have likewise read one of Miss Austen’s works—Emma—read it with interest and with just the degree of admiration which Miss Austen herself would have thought sensible and suitable.  Anything like warmth or enthusiasm—anything energetic, poignant, heart-felt is utterly out of place in commending these works: all such demonstration the authoress would have met with a well-bred sneer, would have calmly scorned as outré and extravagant.  She does her business of delineating the surface of the lives of genteel English people curiously well.  There is a Chinese fidelity, a miniature delicacy in the painting.  She ruffles her reader by nothing vehement, disturbs him by nothing profound.  The passions are perfectly unknown to her; she rejects even a speaking acquaintance with that stormy sisterhood…”

Bronte continues:

“What sees keenly, speaks aptly, moves flexibly, it suits her to study; but what throbs fast and full, though hidden, what the blood rushes through, what is the unseen seat of life and the sentient target of death—this Miss Austen ignores. “

And she goes on. Charlotte Bronte is actually agreeing with Scott’s comments when he describes her writing as

“……close to common incidents, and to such characters that occupy the ordinary walks of life”

The difference is that Scott makes his view a positive while Bronte makes her view a negative. I agree with what she says. Austen writes about the ordinary. Bronte on the other hand and her sisters wrote about,

 “what throbs fast and full, though hidden, what the blood rushes through, what is the unseen seat of life and the sentient target of death”

Charlotte Bronte is actually describing the differences between their two styles. I have read articles published on some blogs where the writer tries to pit Charlotte Bronte against Jane Austen. Who do you like the best? Who do you think is the better writer? And so on. These are a childish approach to comparing two great writers. Two geniuses. Their styles are different. Every one of us reads different types of books for different reasons at different times to fit, very often , our different moods. We can read a poem by Wordsworth one day and on other days a romantic comedy, a ghost story, a swashbuckling adventure, a horror story or maybe a present day thriller. We can enjoy each genre for what it is and what it brings to us. Austen and Bronte are not enemies, they are not one better than the other. They are different and we can enjoy both. I can imagine how Bronte could be critical. She had a harder life than Jane Austen. Her novels and those of her sisters, were full of passion and deep feelings and filled with great moral uncertainties testing the moral status quo to the limit. Their ideas made their lives worth living and helped them live their short lives with feeling. Jane Austen had a much easier existence. I can see how Charlotte Bronte might not understand Austen’s standpoint. She probably could not bear to live the way Austen’s characters are portrayed. However, we can love them both.

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The exhibition demonstrates many of the influences Jane Austen might have used in her writing of Emma. There is the suggestion, for instance, that the fictional places Highbury and Hartfield in Emma are modelled on Chawton and the local town Alton. These are in Hampshire but the novel is set in Surrey. Others I know would not agree. Some say Leatherhead in Surrey, which is near Box Hill, a major location in the book. Others suggest Highbury is a generic English village, and I think this more likely.

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In Emma Jane Fairfax plays a tune called “Robin Adair” on the newly arrived pianoforte. There is on display a copy of “Binder’s volume of printed keyboard and harp music, 1780-1815,” annotated and autographed by Jane’s sister Cassandra. It includes the music to “Robin Adair.” [Ed. You can read this online here: https://archive.org/details/austen1677439-2001 ]

There is a bound set of The Ladies Magazine (1770-1832) which provides sewing patterns for young ladies. It is the sort of magazine that Jane Austen had access too. In Emma, sewing and painting are pastimes for young ladies.

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A final display cabinet shows the influences that Emma has had on culture over the centuries. There are various spin-off novels, including the latest modern version of Emma written by Alexander McCall Smith. There are play scripts written by various playwrights turning Emma into a stage version. These include plays by Gordon Glennan and Marion MacKaye. There are a number of radio adaptations. One read by Prunella Scales, another by Jeremy Northam. There are the film versions and the films influenced by Emma such as Clueless set in modern times. Spin-off novels are represented by a copy of the latest Stephanie Barron mystery The Waterloo Map. [Ed. Note that this latest Barron mystery has Jane visiting Carlton House where she meets with the Prince Regent’s Librarian – this all really took place on 13 November 1815; he “suggests” that she dedicate her newest book, Emma, to the Prince Regent – Barron has her also coming upon a dead body in the Library…]

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The exhibition is definitely worth seeing and just as much is the opportunity to walk around Chawton House where Jane Austen herself and her family lived and breathed. I also took the opportunity to take a walk in the gardens. I came across a snake lying across my path as I walked up to the walled gardens. I must tell you that in all my life I only recall seeing two other snakes in Britain in the wild. This was a grass snake and was totally harmless. The adder is the only poisonous snake in Britain and they are very shy creatures. I think I saw one once in the New Forest.

Harmless grass snake on the path

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“Portrait of a Lady” at CHL

The people who volunteer at Chawton are wonderful. They want to talk to you and tell you things. I had a very amusing moment with an elderly gentleman volunteer at the top of the great staircase. He was sitting on the landing. When I approached he showed me an information leaflet and we discussed its contents. One thing it mentioned was the original William Morris wallpaper. I looked around and couldn’t see any. “Well, then where’s the wallpaper?” I joked. He laughed and said “come with me.” We walked half way down the staircase and then turned and got on our hands and knees. There indeed, almost hidden behind the balustrade, was a patch of darkened William Morris print. He also kindly showed me the large 1714 map of London displayed on the folding panels of a screen.

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We found Henrietta Street and other places associated with Jane Austen when she visited London. Then I went into the old kitchen which is used as a shop and cafe and met a lovely lady who told me she was the housekeeper. I had a delicious chocolate cake and a cup of coffee. All together I had a wonderful visit to the “Emma 200 exhibition.”

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Further reading:

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[All photographs c2016 Tony Grant unless otherwise indicated]

c2016 Jane Austen in Vermont

The Publishing History of Jane Austen’s Emma

As part of Sarah Emsley’s upcoming three month-long celebration of Emma, “Emma in the Snow” beginning on December 23, 2015, I have written this post on its publishing history – an interesting tale gleaned from Austen’s Letters, Deirdre Le Faye’s Chronology, and other scholarly essays. Sarah will be re-blogging it, and we welcome your comments on either site. Emma was published in late December 1815, though the title page states 1816, and hence why there are celebrations both this year and next. I always have felt it appropriate that this book was published so close to Austen’s birthday on the 16th, and why I am posting this today, what would have been her 240th! And December brings to mind the very pivotal and humorous scene on Christmas Eve with Mr. Elton and Emma in the carriage – think snow – it shall be here soon enough!

Publishing Emma

emma1898vol1cover-mollands

Emma, Vol. 1 cover. London: Dent, 1898 (Mollands)

The most oft-quoted reference to Emma appears in her nephew James Edward Austen Leigh’s Memoir of 1870 where he writes: “She was very fond of Emma, but did not reckon her being a general favourite; for when commencing that work, she said, ‘I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like.’” (Memoir, 140) And indeed, most of the controversy surrounding Emma, though considered by many to be her “most profound achievement,” (Fergus 14) has been the likeability of this title character.

One of the joys of reading Jane Austen’s letters is to discover the numerous references to her novels through the writing and publishing process – we all feel great disappointment that there are not more – but in the case of Emma, there are many such finds, almost all to do with its publication, and why perhaps we hang on this quote from the Memoir as Austen’s only personal comment about its creation. In writing up this interesting publishing history, I realize most of the best bits are in these letters as she negotiates with her new publisher John Murray, nurses her brother Henry through a near-death illness, visits the Prince Regent’s Librarian at Carlton House, learns that her niece Anna Lefroy has had a baby daughter and her brother Frank another son, works with the printers’ galleys of Emma, and edits Mansfield Park for a second edition. She has also at this time begun writing Persuasion (begun August 8, 1815 and finished August 6, 1816) – a great deal happens in these two months from October 4, 1815 when she leaves Chawton for London with Henry, and December 16th, when she returns! Emma is finally published on December 23rd and she begins keeping a record of its “opinions” henceforth.

I am going to present here a chronological accounting of Emma’s publication, interspersed with the letters – it is the only way to get a full sense of what was actually happening – her letters making us nearly over-the-shoulder voyeurs into these very packed two months of her life.… 

Dates of composition: these are noted in Cassandra Austen’s memorandum (Minor Works, opp. 242): began January 21, 1814; finished March 29, 1815. Jan Fergus believes that she likely revised it until August when she began Persuasion (Fergus 5). She does not submit the manuscript to John Murray until late August or early September 1815.

But what of the backstory? There are no comments by Austen to the actual writing of Emma, but it is worth a look at what she was doing between January 1814 and March 1815 to tease out some interesting real-life correlations. In the “Introduction” to the 2005 Cambridge edition of Emma, the editors (Richard Cronin and Dorothy McMillan, ) note a number of various events during this time frame that perhaps in one way or another show up in the plot and characters of Emma. Le Faye’s Chronology and The Letters are invaluable here – here is a quick sampling: 

  • Austen visits Great Bookham, which is close to Box Hill and Leatherhead, considered the most likely model for Highbury.
  • Miss Sharpe is now a governess in Yorkshire – Austen wishes for her employer to marry her has echoes in the story of Miss Taylor, later Mrs. Weston, and Jane Fairfax (see Ltr. 102, June 23,1814).
  • Austen’s niece Anna marries Ben Lefroy on November 8, 1814 – perhaps why she names the baby in Emma “Anna” (though Mrs. Weston’s first name is Anne)
  • Austen writes to her niece Fanny about whether or not she is in love with John Plumptre – we see this as Emma humorously debates with herself about whether or not she is in love with Frank Churchill (see Ltrs. 109 and 114).
  • We have only to read her letter to Anna about the atmosphere of the Wen [London] to recall Mr. Woodhouse’s commentary on the air of London and Isabella’s staunch defense of their “superior” location in Brunswick Square. [see Ltr. 110. Nov 22, 1814]

Anna Lefroy-MemoirAnna Lefroy – from the Memoir

  • Austen is reading and critiquing her niece Anna’s novel – it is here we have the most information on Austen’s view of the writing process –  and where she famously states: “…3 or 4 Families in a Country Village is the very thing to work on…” (Ltr. 107, Sept 9-18, 1814), which of course is exactly what Emma is all about. (See Cronin and McMillan, xxiii-xxv)

I will do a more detailed post on this backstory topic in the future, but now a return to the publishing adventure.

HansPlace-HillA house in Hans Place, London. similar to where
Henry Austen lived and Jane Austen visited
Source: Constance Hill, Jane Austen: Her Homes and Her Friends (1923)

October 4, 2015: Austen travels to London with her brother Henry, expecting to stay “a week or two” (Ltr. 120) and negotiations with her publisher begin. Her attempts to have Thomas Egerton publish a 2nd edition of Mansfield Park had been unsuccessful the previous year:

Austen had written on November 30, 1814: (Ltr. 114 to Fanny Knight)

“…it is not yet settled yet whether I do hazard a 2d Edition. We are to see Egerton today, when it will be probably determined. – People are more ready to borrow & praise, than to buy…”

John Murray. NPG-wikipedia

John Murray. NPG-wikipedia

October 17, 1815: There is no definitive answer as to why Egerton did not choose to publish, but we do know that Austen submitted her Emma manuscript to the more prestigious John Murray the following year in late summer / early fall 1815. We know from the Chronology (514) that Henry and Jane visited Steventon unexpectedly Sept 3rd and stayed until the 5th – this may have been when Austen gave her “Emma” MS to Henry to deliver to Murray. In a letter dated Sept 29, 1815, Murray’s editor William Gifford writes: “Of ‘Emma’, I have nothing but good to say. I was sure of the author before you mentioned her.” It is believed that at this point Murray was hoping to purchase the copyright and have Gifford edit the manuscript for publication. 

Kathryn Sutherland in her essay “Jane Austen’s Dealings with John Murray and His Firm” outlines further explanation as to when Murray may have been first approached by Austen. She has found in the Murray Archives an earlier letter from Gifford dated November 14, 1814 on his having read Pride and Prejudice. Sutherland supposes that Austen met with Murray in the November of 1814 year when in London negotiating with Egerton over the Mansfield Park 2nd edition. By the time Gifford writes his Sept. 1815 letter urging Murray to acquire Emma, as well as the copyrights of P&P and another novel, he is already familiar with and highly values her writings.

But Austen writes: [Ltr. 121 Oct 17, 1815]

“Mr. Murray’s Letter is come [dated Oct 15]; he is a Rogue of course, but a civil one. He offers £450 – but wants to have the Copyright of MP & S&S included. It will end in my publishing for myself I dare say. – He sends more praise however than I expected. It is an amusing Letter.”  

So the decision is made to publish on commission, i.e. Austen takes on the expense of publishing, Murray takes 10% commission on all profits – Austen had learned her lesson in selling the copyright of Pride and Prejudice directly to Thomas Egerton for £110. But those who have looked into all the facts and figures of her profits and losses (see especially Fergus) surmise that she in this case would have done better to have sold the copyrights outright for the £450.

Henry’s illness: It is also in this letter of Oct 17th that Austen first makes note of Henry being ill – “Henry is not henry_austenquite well – a bilious attack with fever.” She continues the letter the next day with:

“Henry’s illness is more serious than I expected. He has been in bed since three o’clock on Monday” and goes on to write about the physician Mr. Haden’s (though Austen spells it “Haydon”) opinions of the matter and the drawing of blood to lessen inflammation – “Henry is an excellent Patient, lies quietly in bed & is ready to swallow anything. Her lives upon Medicine, Tea and Barley water… he is in “the back room upstairs – & I am generally there also, working or writing.”

October 20, 1815: Henry Austen’s letter of October 20 or 21st is written – Austen kept a draft [Ltr. 122(A)(D)] with this heading:

“A Letter to Mr. Murray which Henry dictated a few days after his Illness began, & just before the severe Relapse which drew him into such Danger.”

Dear Sir

Severe Illness has confined me to my Bed ever since I received Yours of ye 15th – I cannot yet hold a pen, & employ an Amuensis [sic]. – The Politeness & Perspicuity of your Letter equally claim my earliest Exertion. – Your official opinion of the Merits of Emma, is very valuable & satisfactory. – Though I venture to differ occasionally from your Critique, yet I assure you the Quantum of your commendation rather exceeds than falls short of the Author’s expectation & my own. – The Terms you offer are so very inferior to what we had expected that I am apprehensive of having made some great Error in my Arithmetical Calculation. – On the subject of the expense & profit of publishing, you must be much better informed that I am; – but Documents in my possession appear to prove that the Sum offered by you, for the Copyright of Sense & Sensibility, Mansfield Park & Emma, is not equal to the Money which my Sister has actually cleared by one very moderate Edition of Mansfield Park – (You Yourself expressed astonishment that so small an Edit. of such a work should have been sent into the World) & a still smaller one of Sense & Sensibility… 

I love this letter! – it shows Henry as a strong advocate for his sister, as well as quite the wit!

But succeeding days show Austen requesting a second doctor for Henry – this was likely Dr. Matthew Baillie, one of the Prince Regent’s medical advisors (Le Faye, Chron. 518) Austen begins to summon family members and Cassandra, James, and Edward all head for London; Cassandra will remain there with Jane until Nov 20th.

In the middle of all this, on October 20th, Anna Lefroy (James’s daughter) gives birth to a little girl named Anna-Jemina! And on the 30th Austen writes to her niece Caroline Austen (now 10 years old) about her own story in the making: she feels “not quite equal to taking up your Manuscript, but think I shall soon, & hope my detaining it so long will be no inconvenience.” [Ltr. 123, Oct 30, 1815]

November 3, 1815.  A few days later we see Austen taking on the negotiating of Emma herself – she writes:

My Brother’s severe Illness has prevented his replying to Yours of Oct 15, on the subject of the MS of Emma, now in your hands – And as he is, though recovering, still in a state which we are fearful of harassing by Business & I am at the same time desirous of coming to some decision on the affair in question, I must request the favour of you to call on me here, on any day after the present that may suit you best, & at any hour in the Evening or any in the Morning except from Eleven to One. – A short conversation may perhaps do more that much Writing. [Ltr. 124, Nov 3, 1815]

We hear no more of the actual negotiations, but find that in mid-November Murray includes Emma in his list of publications in the press and “nearly ready for publication” – this November 1815 listing was found inserted in a copy of Helen Maria Williams’ A Narrative of the Events which have Taken Place in France (London: Murray, 1816) – Austen refers to this book in letter 127 (Nov 24, 1815) below (Gilson xxix).

November 8, 1815. Austen’s brother Frank’s 4th son, Herbert Grey, is born!

November 13, 1815 – The visit to Carlton House:  

Carlton House exterior

Carlton House, London

Sometime in early November, the Prince Regent’s physician tells Austen that he is aware she is the author of Pride and Prejudice, and “that the Prince [is] a great admirer of her novels and has read them often and kept a set of in every one of his residences; and he himself thought he ought to inform the Prince that Miss Austen was staying in London, and that the Prince [has] desired Mr Clarke, the librarian of Carlton House, to wait upon her.” (Memoir 105) And here we have one of the more interesting series of letters in the whole collection – insight into Austen’s life in London, her ready wit, the assuredness of her own talents, and the issue of the dedication of Emma to “His Royal Highness, The Prince Regent.”

AN ASIDE ~ the Austen – Clarke correspondence:

Carlton House library

Carlton House Library

We know that Austen visited Carlton House and met with the librarian James Stanier Clarke on Monday the 13th – but alas! there is no account of it from her directly – how one would love to have heard her comments to her sister and Henry when she returned to Hans Place that day! – all we have is this letter of the 15th addressed to Clarke: [ Ltr. 125(D)]

 

Sir,

I must take the liberty of asking You a question – Among the many flattering attentions which I rec’d from you at Carlton House, on Monday last, was the Information of my being at liberty to dedicate any future Work to HRH the P.R. without the necessity of any Solicitation on my part. Such at least, I beleived to be your words; but as I am very anxious to be quite certain of what was intended, I intreat you to have the goodness to inform me how such a Permission is to be understood, & whether it is incumbent on me to shew my sense of the Honour, by inscribing the Work now in the Press, to H.R.H. – I sh’d be equally concerned to appear either presumptuous or Ungrateful.-

I am etc…

James_Stanier_Clarke-wp.pg

James Stanier Clarke – wikipedia

Clarke responded immediately:

It is certainly not incumbent on you to dedicate your work now in the Press to His Royal Highness: but if you wish to do the Regent that honour either now or at some future period, I am happy to send you that permission which need not require any more trouble or solicitation on your Part.

And then Clarke goes on to offer Austen writing advice!

Your late Works, Madam, and in particular Mansfield Park reflect the highest honour on your Genius & your Principles; in every new work your mind seems to increase its energy and powers of discrimination. The Regent has read & admired all your publications.

Accept my sincere thanks for the pleasure your Volumes have given me: in the perusal of them I felt a great inclination to write & say so. And I also dear Madam wished to be allowed to ask you, to delineate in some future Work the Habits of Life and Character and enthusiasm of a Clergyman – who should pass his time between the metropolis & the Country – who should be something like Beatties Minstrel… Neither Goldsmith – nor La Fontaine in his Tableau de Famille – have in my mind quite delineated an English Clergyman, at least of the present day – Fond of, & entirely engaged in Literature – no man’s Enemy but his own. Pray dear Madam think of these things…

P.S. I am going for about three weeks to Mr Henry Streatfields, Chiddingstone Sevenoaks – but hope on my return to have the honour of seeing you again. (Ltr. 125(A), Nov 16, 1815)

This lively correspondence between Austen and Clarke continued later in December upon Clarke’s return – Austen writes on December 11:

My Emma is now so near publication that I feel it right to assure you of my not having forgotten your kind recommendation of an early Copy for Cn H. [Carlton House] – & that I have Mr. Murray’s promise of its being sent to HRH. under cover to You, three days previous to the Work being really out.-

I must make use of this opportunity to thank you dear Sir, for the very high praise you bestow upon my other Novels – I am too vain to wish to convince you that you have praised them beyond their Merit.-

My greatest anxiety at present is that this 4th work shd not disgrace what was good in the others. But at this point I will do myself the justice to declare that whatever may be my wishes for its’ success, I am very strongly haunted by the idea that to those Readers who have preferred P&P, it will appear inferior in Wit, & to those who have preferred MP, very inferior in good Sense.

And here she addresses Clarke’s suggestions for her Clergyman:

I am quite honoured by your thinking me capable of drawing such a Clergyman as you gave the

CE Brock - Mr Collins (Mollands)

CE Brock – Mr Collins (Mollands)

sketch of in your note of Nov: 16. But I assure you I am not. The Comic part of the Character I might be equal to, but not the Good, the Enthusiastic, the Literary. Such a Man’s Conversation must at times be on subjects of Science & Philosophy of which I know nothing – or at least be occasionally abundant in quotations & allusions which a Woman, who like me, knows only her own Mother-tongue & has read very little in that, would be totally without the power of giving. A Classical Education, or at any rate, a very extensive acquaintance with English Literature, Ancient & Modern, appears to me quite Indispensable for the person who wd do any justice to your Clergyman – And I think I may boast myself to be, with all possible Vanity, the most unlearned, & uninformed Female who ever dared to be an Authoress. (Ltr. 132(D), Dec 11, 1815)

Clarke writes again on Dec 21st or so thanking her for the copy of Emma which he has sent on to the Prince Regent: “I have read only a few pages which I very much admired – there is so much nature – and excellent description of Character in everything you describe.” He then goes on to again implore her to write about a Clergyman, in what sounds like a sort of autobiography of Himself! – then offers her a copy of his forthcoming book on James II, as well as the offer of the use of his small Cell and library at No. 37 Golden Square when she comes to Town – “I shall be most happy. There is a Maid Servant of mine always there.”

What an offer!!

In March, Clarke writes from Brighton sending the thanks of the Prince Regent for “the handsome copy of your last excellent Novel.” He then drops a few names (he is very good at name-dropping!) and suggests that her next work’s dedication should be to Prince Leopold: “any Historical Romance illustrative of the History of the august house of Cobourg, would just now be very interesting.”

Believe me at all times
Dear Miss Austen
Your obliged friend
J. S. Clarke
[Ltr. 138(A), Mar 27, 1816]

To which Austen responds after thanking him for his praises:

…You are very, very kind in your hints as to the sort of Composition which might recommend me at present, & I am fully sensible that an Historical Romance, founded on the House of Saxe Cobourg might be more to the purpose of Profit or Popularity, than such pictures of domestic L:ife in Country Villages I deal in – but I could no more write a Romance than an Epic Poem. – I could not sit seriously down to write a serious Romance under any other motive than to save my Life, & if it were indispensable for me to keep it up & never relax into laughing at myself or other people, I am sure I should be hung before I finished the first Chapter. – No – I must keep to my own style & go on in my own Way. And though I may never succeed again in that, I am convinced that I should totally fail in any other.

I remain my dear Sir,
Your very much obliged & very sincere friend
J Austen
[Ltr. 138(D), April 1, 1816]

And that seems to be the last of their correspondence – we know Austen is deep into writing Persuasion at this point, and that Emma has received a number of good reviews and is selling well. I love this letter because again, it gives us rare insight into how she thought of herself as a writer, as well as a good slice of her self-deprecating irony. And Clarke is so clearly a portrait of Mr. Collins! – a character she wrote a full 10 years before! Austen must have had a good hearty laugh about his requesting her to write about a Clergyman – one wonders what Clarke’s view of Mr. Collins could possibly have been…

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

November 23, 1815: We now must return to the matter at hand – the publication of Emma – with several letters between her and Mr. Murray that show how involved she was in this process. Henry is gradually getting stronger and has written a letter to Murray on Nov 20th (Le Faye Chrono. 520) about the publishing delays, but we do not have a copy of this letter – Austen seems to be doing all the work with Murray herself from this point. Real life includes the visit of her niece Fanny who arrived on the 15th or 16th of November…and Cassandra returns to Chawton on the 20th.

JA letter to Murray 23 Nov 1815

To John Murray, November 23, 1815 [Ltr. 126]

My Brother’s note last Monday has been so fruitless, that I am afraid there can be little chance of my writing to any good effect; but yet I am so very much disappointed & vexed by the delays of the Printers that I cannot help begging to know whether there is no hope of their being quickened. – Instead of Work being ready by the end of the present month, it will hardly, at the rate we now proceed, be finished by the end of the next, and as I expect to leave London in early Decr, it is of consequence that no more time should be lost. Is it likely that the Printers will be influenced to greater Dispatch & Punctuality by knowing that the Work is to be dedicated, by Permission, to the Prince Regent? – If you can make circumstances operate, I shall be very glad…. (Austen then thanks Murray for the loan of a book to Henry)

November 24, 1815: It is in Austen’s next letter to Cassandra that we learn “a much better account of my affairs, which I know will be a great delight to you.”

Printing House - 18thc (eduscapes.com)

Printing House – 18thc (eduscapes.com)

“I wrote to Mr Murray yesterday myself, & Henry wrote at the same time to Roworth [one of the printers]. Before the notes were out of the House I received three sheets, & an apology from R. We sent the notes however, & I had a most civil one in reply from Mr M. He is so very polite indeed, that it is quite overcoming. – The Printers have been waiting for Paper – the blame is thrown upon the Stationer – but he gives his word that I shall have no farther cause for dissatisfaction.” Murray loans them two books – the Miss Williams as noted above and a Walter Scott and she is soothed & complimented into tolerable comfort.-”

…A Sheet come in this moment. 1st & 3rd vol. are now at 144. – 2d at 48. – I am sure you will like Particulars. – We are not to have the trouble of returning the Sheets to Mr Murray any longer, the Printer’s boys bring & carry. [Ltr. 127, Nov 24, 1815]

 

November 26, 1815: The next day is given over to shopping (from 11:30 – 4:00 for all manner of errands and the “miseries of Grafton House”) and on the 26th Austen writes of all these events and their purchases, then this about Emma:

I did mention the P.R. – in my note to Mr Murray, it brought me a fine compliment in return; whether it has done any other good I do now know, but Henry thought it worth trying. – The Printers continue to supply me very well, I am advanced in vol. 3 to my arra-root, upon which peculiar style of spelling, there is a modest qury? in the Margin. – I will not forget Anna’s arrow-root. – I hope you have told Martha of my first resolution of letting nobody know that I might dedicate &c – for fear of being obliged to do it – & that she is thoroughly convinced of my being influenced now by nothing but the most mercenary motives.

And she ends this long letter on visits, visitors, and Henry’s health with this comment on her brother Charles’s letter:

I have a great mind to send him all the twelve Copies which were to have been dispersed among my near Connections – beginning with the P.R. & ending with Countess Morley. [see below for a list of recipients] [Ltr. 128, Nov 26, 1815]

December 2, 1815:  Emma is advertised in The Morning Post as being published in a few days, and Austen’s only mention of Emma in her letter of this day to Cassandra is: “It strikes me that I have no business to give the P. R. a Binding, but we will take Counsel upon the question.” (She does present him with a fine binding of Emma as her letters above to Clarke indicate; it cost her 24s!)

Emma - Prince Regent's Copy - Le Faye

Emma – Prince Regent’s copy (Le Faye)

December 6, 1815: Emma is again advertised in The Morning Post as forthcoming.

December 10, 1815: The Observer advertises “On Saturday next will be published… EMMA.” (i.e. Dec 16 – but it does not appear on this date)

December 11, 1815: Austen writes another letter to John Murray.

As I find that Emma is advertized for publication as early as Saturday next, I think it best to lose no time in settling all that remains to be settled on the subject, & adopt this method of doing so, as involving the smallest tax on your time.-

In the first place, I beg you to understand that I leave the terms on which the Trade should be supplied with the work, entirely to your Judgement, entreating you to be guided in every such arrangement by your own experience of what is most likely to clear off the Edition rapidly. I shall be satisfied with whatever you feel to be best.-

The Title page must be, Emma, Dedicated by Permission to H. R. H. The Prince Regent. – And it is my particular wish that one Set should be completed & sent to H. R. H. two or three days before the Work is generally public – It should be sent under Cover to the Rev. J. S. Clarke, Librarian, Carlton House. – I shall subjoin a list of those persons, to whom I must trouble you to forward also a Set of each, when the Work is out; – all unbound, with From the Authoress, in the first page.

I return to you, with very many Thanks, the Books you have so obligingly supplied me with. – I am very sensible I assure you of the attention you have paid to my Convenience & amusement. – I return also, Mansfield Park, as ready for a 2d Edit: I beleive, as I can make it. – …. I wish you would have the goodness to send a line by the Bearer, stating the day on which the set will be ready for the Prince Regent. [Ltr. 130, Dec 11, 1815]

And another letter to Murray on the same day – he must have instantly dispatched a response to the above:

I am much obliged by your, and very happy to feel everything arranged to our mutual satisfaction. As to my direction about the title-page, it was arising from my ignorance only, and from my never having noticed the proper place for a dedication. I thank you for putting me right. Any deviation from what is actually done in such cases is the last thing I should wish for. I feel happy in having a friend to save me from the ill effect of my own blunder. [Ltr. 131C, Dec 11, 1815]

(And see her letter to Clarke on this date above claiming to be the most unlearned, & uninformed Female who ever dared to be an Authoress.”)

Emma-tp-wpDecember 16, 1815: Austen’s birthday! Emma is not published as advertised, and she leaves for Chawton as she notes in Letter 133 (Dec 14, 1815) “I leave Town early on Saturday…” – she has been in London for over two months, her stay lengthened by Henry’s illness and publishing delays.

There are no more letters until December 31, though Fanny Knight writes in her pocket-book on the 17th and the 22nd that she received a letter from Aunt Jane – more letters lost… (Le Faye Chrono. 524).

December 19, 1815: “Murray’s clerk enters details in the ledger regarding Emma: 2000 copies printed, 3 vols., price 1 guinea the set, title page dated 1816” – also includes Austen’s list of her 12 presentation copies (see below). Murray also gives a copy to Byron’s half-sister Augusta Leigh, and to Maria Edgeworth at Austen’s request.  (Le Faye Chrono. 525)

December 21, 1815: The Morning Chronicle: Emma to be published “on Saturday next”

December 22, 1815: The Morning Chronicle: Emma to be published “Tomorrow”

December 23, 1815: The Morning Chronicle: Emma “PUBLISHED THIS DAY”

December 25, 1815: John Murray writes to Walter Scott requesting a review of Emma – this is published in March 1816 issue of the Quarterly Review.

“Have you any fancy to dash off an article on ‘Emma’? It wants incident and romance does it not? None of the author’s other novels have been noticed [in Murray’s ‘Quarterly Review’] and surely ‘Pride and Prejudice’ merits high commendation. (Gilson 69)

December 27, 1815: the Countess of Morley, one of the recipients of a presentation copy, writes to Austen:

Countess of Morley - BBC

Countess of Morley – BBC

…I am already become intimate in the Woodhouse family, & feel that they will not amuse & interest me less than the Bennetts [sic], Bertrams, Norriss & all their admirable predecessors – I can give them no higher praise – [Ltr. 134(A), Dec 27, 1815] (though the Countess writes letters to others that she finds the book quite dull – more on this in another post!) 

December 31, 1815: Austen responds to the Countess:

Madam,

Accept my Thanks for the honour of your note & for your kind disposition in favour of Emma. In my present state of doubt as to her reception in the World, it is particularly gratifying to me to receive so early an assurance of your Ladyship’s approbation. – It encourages me to depend on the same share of general good opinion which Emma’s Predecessors have experienced, & to believe that I have not yet – as almost every Writer of Fancy does sooner or later – overwritten myself… [Ltr. 134, Dec 31, 1815]

Early January 1816: Austen sends her copy of Emma to her niece Anna – and as she had with Pride & Prejudice in calling it “my own darling child,” compares her novel creation to the birth of a Anna’s baby:

My dear Anna,

As I wish very much to see your Jemina, I am sure you will like to see my Emma, & have therefore great pleasure in sending it for your perusal. Keep it as long as you chuse; it has been read by all here.- 

Austen in late January also sends off a copy of Emma to her friend Catherine Ann Prowting, after the death of their mutual friend Mary Benn. [Ltr. 136, Jan ? 1816]

And then no letters at all until March 13 (Ltr. 137 to Caroline Austen) … but on February 19, 1816, Murray publishes the 2nd edition of Mansfield Park: 750 copies (Gilson 59):

MP-2ded-titlepage

 

In mid-march, Henry Austen’s bank fails, a catastrophic event for the family – Austen refers to it in her April 1, 1816 letter to Murray as “this late sad Event in Henrietta St.” And here in late March and early April we have the two letters noted above to and from James Stanier Clarke.

March 1816: the Quarterly Review (vol. 14, no. 27, dated October 1815) is published and contains Scott’s (though anonymous) review of Emma.

Sir Walter Scott - wikipedia

Sir Walter Scott – wikipedia

April 1, 1816:  Austen to John Murray, returning his copy of the Quarterly Review

I return you the Quarterly Review with many Thanks. The Authoress of Emma has no reason to think to complain of her treatment in it – except in the total omission of Mansfield Park. – I cannot but be very sorry that so clever a Man as the Reveiwer of Emma, should consider it as unworthy of being noticed, – You will be pleased to hear that IU have received the Prince’s Thanks for the handsome Copy I sent him of Emma. Whatever he may think of my share of the Work, Yours seems to have been quite right… [Ltr. 139, April 1, 1816]

 

February 20-21, 1817 [Ltr. 151]: the last mention of Emma in the letters is a thank you to Fanny for mentioning Mrs. C. Cage’s praise of Emma. Austen notes this in her “Opinions of Emma”:

A great many thanks for the loan of Emma, which I am delighted with. I like it better than any. Every character is thoroughly kept up. I must enjoy reading it again with Charles. Miss Bates is incomparable, but I was nearly killed with those precious treasures! They are Unique, & really with more fun that I can express. I am at Highbury all day, & I can’t help feeling I have just got into a new set of acquaintance. No one writes such good sense, & so very comfortable. [MW 439]

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

So Emma is released upon the world on December 23, 1815, with the following dedication, the only time Austen dedicated a novel to anyone (her juvenilia is all dedicated, amusingly so – worth a read in themselves!) – I think she bandies about “Royal Highness” a bit too much, perhaps her only way of disguising in plain sight her dislike of the man!

TO HIS

ROYAL HIGHNESS

THE PRINCE REGENT,

THIS WORK IS,

BY HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS’S PERMISSION,

MOST RESPECTFULLY

DEDICATED,

BY HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS’S

DUTIFUL

AND OBEDIENT

HUMBLE SERVANT,

THE AUTHOR

***********

Here is how it looks in the 1816 American edition of Emma, the same as it did in the London 1st edition:

Emma1816_Vol1-Dedication

(Goucher College website)

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

I repeat here the advertisements for Emma’s publication:

  1. Mid-November 1815, Murray includes Emma in his list of publications in the press and “nearly ready for publication”
  2. The Morning Post (Dec 2, 1815): “in a few days will be published…EMMA, a novel”
  3. The Morning Post (Dec 6, 1815): repeated the above
  4. The Observer (December 10, 1815): “On Saturday next will be published… EMMA.” (i.e. Dec 16 – but it does not appear on this date, Austen’s birthday).
  5. The Morning Chronicle (Dec 21, 1815): Emma to be published “on Saturday next”
  6. The Morning Chronicle (Dec 22, 1815): Emma to be published “Tomorrow”
  7. The Morning Chronicle (Dec 23, 1815): Emma “PUBLISHED THIS DAY”
  8. The Morning Post (Dec 29, 1815) – also advertises Emma as “This day published…”

The title page states 1816 – this was customary for books published at the end of the preceeding year. Note that Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were published in late December 1817, though the title page states 1818.

Presentation copies: (from Murray’s records)

  • The Prince Regent: his was delivered to James Stanier Clarke on December 21, 1815, bound in full red morocco gilt at a cost of 24s – Clarke writes on its receipt: You were very good to send me Emma – which I have in no respect deserved. It is gone to the Prince Regent. I have read only a few pages which I very much admired – there is so much nature – and excellent description of Character in everything you describe.” (Ltr. 132(A). Dec 21, 1815)
  • Jane Austen
  • Henry Austen
  • Countess of Morley
  • Rev. J. S. Clarke
  • J. Leigh Perrot
  • Mrs. Austen (2 copies)
  • Captain Austen (likely Charles)
  • Rev. J. Austen
  • H. F. Austen (Frank)
  • Miss Knight (Fanny)
  • Miss Sharpe (governess / JA’s friend)
  • Augusta Leigh (Byron’s half-sister), given by Murray
  • Maria Edgeworth, as requested by Austen

The Particulars:

  1. Published anonymously “By the Author of ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ etc, etc”
  2. Copies: 2000 were printed, the 3-volume set sold for £1.1s., more than was usual for a 3-volume novel. 1248 were sold by Oct 1816, and by 1820, 538 copies were remaindered at 2s each.
  3. Printers: C. Roworth (vols. 1 and 2); J. Moyes (vol. 3)
  4. Binding: grey-brown paper boards and spine, or blue-grey boards and grey-brown, grey-blue or off-white spine

Emma-1sted-dailymailA pristine 1st of Emma for sale last year for £100,000
at Lucius Books in York (Daily Mail, Dec 2014)

or it may have looked like this:

FirstEdP&P-NLScotland

Pride & Prejudice 1st ed (1813) – National Library of Scotland

5. Profits: Murray published Emma on commission, but also published the second edition of Mansfield Park – as noted above, Austen had written to Murray from Hans Place on Dec 11, 1815: “I return also ‘Mansfield Park,’ as ready for a 2d edit: I believe, as I can make it-”  this edition came out on February 19, 1816 but did not sell well – the losses on this reduced the profits on Emma (which were substantial at the likely total of £373) to £38.18 (Fergus). One issue contributing to lower profits was Murray’s use of more expensive paper.

6. No manuscript survives.

7. Later Publishing History: a brief summary

Emma1816_Vol1-title page

Emma (Philadelphia, 1816) – Goucher College

1st American Edition – the only such printed in Austen’s lifetime, but since it was never mentioned by her or her family, it was likely unknown to them.

Published by Mathew Carey of Philadelphia in 1816, this American edition was only discovered in 1939 when found listed in a bookshop catalogue. It is unknown how many copies were printed but this edition is very rare – Goucher College has a copy in their Alberta H. Burke Collection – and this year it is the subject of an exhibition. You can visit the website here: http://www.emmainamerica.org/

Published in two volumes, the first is available online at the Goucher website; Volume II will be available next year.

 

1st French translation (Paris: Feb 1816): titled La Nouvelle Emma, with the translator not noted.

1st Bentley edition (1833): Richard Bentley purchased the copyrights of Austen’s novels from Henry and Cassandra for £210, with another £40 paid to Egerton for the copyright of P&P. He was to include them in his Standard Novels series. Sense and Sensibility was published on Dec 28, 1832 (t.p. states 1833), followed by Emma on Feb 27, 1833. This edition eliminated the Dedication to the Prince Regent for reasons unknown. There is an engraved frontispiece and title page vignette by William Greatbatch after George Pickering.

1856-Bentley-frontis2-Cox

Emma, (Bentley, 1856 ed with same frontis as 1833 ed) – Andrew Cox Rare Books

8.  Value today: First editions of Emma come up for auction periodically, prices all depending upon condition. In the original boards as published estimated values vary from $75,000 – 100,000; rebound in contemporary leather values average $35,000 – $50,000; modern re-bindings will fetch less. There are ten online at present, all rebound and varying from $17,000 – $45,000. The first American edition by Carey is rarely seen, though there is one right now online for $25,000. Of course online prices don’t tell the full tale – auction prices give us the true value at any given time – Emma in original boards sold for £30,000 at Sotheby’s in 2010, a rebound edition sold at Bonham’s in 2013 for $8500. In 2014, a nearly pristine copy in original boards sold for £48,050.

The Anne Sharp presentation copy noted above has been bandied about in recent years: it sold in 2008 for £180,000, then again in 2010 for £325,000. It was up for auction in December 2012 for an estimate of £150,000 – £200,000 but did not sell, and I do not know where it might be at present…

Emma-SharpeCopy-SothebysAnne Sharp presentation copy of Emma – Sotheby’s

It does make one wonder what Jane Austen would think of all this!

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

For the 200 years since that December 23rd “THIS DAY PUBLISHED” there have been an abundance of Emmas brought into the world – with various printing fonts, interesting covers from the delightful to the ridiculous, and illustrations from all manner of artists – collecting them is a full-time job! But if we look back to that first edition with far less print to every page, no illustrations, and those rather dull covers, we have merely what Austen wrote, a tale of a matchmaking heroine who is at times hard to take.  Austen knew her reading public and had, as we saw in the quote opening this post, her own concerns about Emma’s likeability in that larger world outside her own family circle. But of course that’s the point – surrounded in charades and puzzles and as P. D. James has pointed out, a detective story, a coterie of characters, some quite annoying, and a narrative technique that leaves you wondering who said or thought what, Austen gives us a nearly perfect novel, one that leaves you guessing right to the end, brilliantly portraying a very small world that mirrors the larger, all told with a heavy dose of irony. Who cannot delight in Mr. Woodhouse’s obsessions with his health and fears of anything sweet; or Miss Bates babblings of little nothings that of course tell us most of what we need to know if we only paid attention; of Frank Churchill, hero or not; Jane Faifax, too good to be true and with her own mysterious ailments; the Eltons, who so deserve each other; our Dear Mr. Knightley, who upon every re-reading becomes my favorite Hero, and who on multiple readings can be seen to be quite hopelessly in Love with Emma from the start; and of course Emma, whatever we may make of her.

As we begin this bicentennial celebration of Emma, I invite you again to visit Sarah Emsley’s blog on “Emma in the Snow” where there will be bi-weekly posts starting December 23rd through March 2016. Sarah has garnered an impressive group of Austen folk to participate – so-re-read your Emma and be prepared to spend these next few months immersing yourself in this novel where nothing much seems to happen, but of course everything about human nature does. I end here with this thoughtful quote from the Cambridge edition – think on this as you begin your re-reading adventure:

This is a novel that does not ask its readers either to like or dislike its heroine: it invites them to question their responses, and to recognize their capacity to elevate their likings and dislikings to the status of moral judgements. (Introd. Emma, xxxviii)

*********

Some favorite illustrations of the proposal scene:

BrockCE-Emma-Proposal-mollands

CE Brock, Emma (Dent, 1898) – Mollands

Thomson-Emma-Proposal-BL

Hugh Thomson, Emma (Macmillan, 1896) – British Library

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

References:

Austen, Jane. Emma: An Annotated Edition. Ed. Bharat Tandon. Harvard UP, 2012.

_____. Emma: The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen. Ed. Richard Cronin and Dorothy McMillan. Cambridge UP, 2005, p bed. 2013.

_____. Jane Austen’s Letters. Ed. Deirdre Le Faye. 4th ed. Oxford UP, 2011.

_____. The Works of Jane Austen: Minor Works. Ed. R. W. Chapman. Oxford UP, 1988 edition, c1954.

Austen-Leigh, James Edward. A Memoir of Jane Austen. Folio Society, 1989 (based on 1871 edition).

Fergus, Jan. Jane Austen: A Literary Life. Macmillan, 1991. See also Sabor, 1-16.

Gilson, David. A Bibliography of Jane Austen. Oak Knoll Press, 1997.

Sabor, Peter, ed. Cambridge Companion to Emma. Cambridge UP, 2015.

Upcoming posts on Emma: Stay tuned!

  1. The Backstory of publishing Emma
  2. Emma’s Christmas Eve
  3. Emma‘s illustrators
c2015 Jane Austen in Vermont

I have something in hand…” ~ The Publishing of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park

 

MP-vintagecover

I have something in hand – which I hope on the credit of P. & P. will sell well, tho’ not half so entertaining. (Ltr.  86: 3 – 6 July 1813, to Capt. Francis Austen)

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

Dear Gentle Readers: This history of the publishing of Mansfield Park serves as an introduction to Sarah Emsley’s seriesAn Invitation to Mansfield Park,” which will begin on May 9th on her blog. As we celebrate this bicentenary of Austen’s third novel, published in May 1814, it seems only right to begin at the beginning, from when Austen first makes mention of Mansfield Park in her letters and its subsequent road to publication, to the later printings and early illustrated works. I am posting it here because of its length and number of illustrations – and Sarah will be re-blogging it immediately. Please continue to visit her blog for the interesting posts she has lined up for the next several months from various Jane Austen scholars and bloggers – a worthy tribute as we all give Mansfield Park the undivided attention it deserves!

~

The Publishing of Mansfield Park

We have Cassandra’s word that Jane Austen began Mansfield Park “sometime around February 1811 and finished soon after June 1813.” Letters during this time [you can read all the letters relating to Mansfield Park here] indicate that at least Cassandra was already very familiar with this work-in-progress – a few of the letters show how diligent Austen was in checking her facts about ordination and hedgerows, ships of the Royal Navy, and correct terminology for the Gibraltar “Commissioner.”

Early readers of the letters took her reference to “Ordination”

Now I will try to write of something else; – it shall be a complete change of subject – Ordination. (Ltr. 79: 29 Jan 1813)

to mean this was the theme of her next book, i.e. Mansfield Park. It is now generally accepted that she was just acknowledging her request in a previous letter for information on the process of ordination – to get it right about Edmund. (But see Michael Karounos, “Ordination and Revolution in Mansfield Park.” SEL 44.4 (2004): 715-36, for a discussion of what Austen meant by this word “ordination” and how it is indeed the theme of the novel.)

 

HenryAusten-jasna-Zohn

Henry Austen

[image: JASNA.org / Zohn]

Henry has this moment said that he likes my M. P. better & better; – he is in the 3d vol. – I believe now he has changed his mind as to foreseeing the end; – he said yesterday at least that he defied anybody to say whether H.C. would be reformed, or would forget Fanny in a fortnight.  (Ltr. 98: 8 Mar 1814).

…indeed the question that has been plaguing readers ever since!

Austen is traveling with Henry to London in March 1814 to negotiate its publication with Thomas Egerton; Henry is reading the manuscript for the first time, i.e. he was not in on the story during its composition over the past two years, as Cassandra was – Henry did not see it until it was ready for the press. It is also telling that her primary interest is Henry’s opinion concerning the ending and what happens with Henry Crawford!

Mansfield Park was being written at the same time Austen was revising Pride & Prejudice for publication [published in January 1813] – Janet Todd makes note of this allusion to the first sentence of P&P: “…there certainly are not so many men of large fortune in the world, as there are pretty women to deserve them.” (Todd, 75). Was Austen perhaps making a sly nod to her previous novel? MP is also the first work to be entirely written after settling in Chawton in 1809. The secret of her authorship is already out, thanks largely to Henry, though she will continue to publish anonymously. She writes to her brother Francis in September 1813:

Francis Austen - wikipedia

Francis Austen – wikipedia

 

…the Secret has spread so far as to be scarcely the Shadow of a secret now – & that I beleive whenever the 3d appears, I shall not even attempt to tell Lies about it. – I shall rather try to make all the Money than all the Mystery I can of it… (Ltr. 90: 25 Sept 1813)

The internal chronology has created its own controversy among scholars and readers – it is an especially important issue when deciphering her references to slavery (the topic of another post!). John Wiltshire in his introduction to The Cambridge Edition of Mansfield Park (2005) wonders why this book took so long to write (Feb 1811-June 1813), longer than her other works, and why the nine-month delay in getting it to London for publishing (March 1814). He speculates that “Mansfield Park is a novel carefully revised and perhaps thoroughly rewritten” and this accounts for the discrepancies in time, what he calls the “double-time scheme.” (Wiltshire, xxxi). But the delay could also be attributed to the long illness of Henry’s wife Eliza and her death in April of 1813. (Wiltshire, xxvii). [See links below for the chronologies.]

**********

This detective work on the composing of Mansfield Park is so very interesting, and essential to interpreting Austen’s intent in this controversial and often misunderstood novel. We are left largely with speculation and a host of unanswered questions. But today I am going to talk about the physical object, the book Mansfield Park as part of our material culture – how it came to be, what it looked like, who bought it and what it cost, followed by a brief introduction to the later printing history that included the American, illustrated and foreign editions.

~

The 1st Edition:

MP-1sted-titlepageMansfield Park title page – 1st edition

Like her S&S and P&P, Mansfield Park was published by Thomas Egerton in 1814. The title page states: “By the Author of ‘Sense & Sensibility,’ and ‘Pride & Prejudice.’” Writing to Francis on March 21, 1814, she hopes that

Perhaps before the end of April, Mansfield Park by the author of S&S. – P.&P. may be in the World. Keep the name to yourself. I sh’d not like to have it known beforehand. (Ltr. 100)

But it is not advertised until May 9, 1814, in The Star, and again on May 14, and further noted in The Morning Chronicle of May 23 and 27. Published on commission – Austen retained the copyright, paid for the costs of paper, printing, and advertising; the publisher distributes to the trade and takes about 10% of the profits – the author loses if the book does not sell well. This third novel came into the world in a run of about only 1250 copies, in 3-volumes, and sold for 18 shillings in boards. And it sells well – Austen writes in November of 1814 You will be glad to hear that the first Edit. of M.P. is all sold.” (Ltr. 109). As with all the finished novels, excepting the cancelled chapters of Persuasion, there is no manuscript.

~

*What did it look like?

FirstEdP&P-NLScotland

Pride and Prejudice 1st ed. – National Library of Scotland

The popular 3-volume format, called a “triple-decker” or a “three-decker,” was typical for novels of the day – what Susan Wolfson calls “a reader-friendly form for sequential purchasing and borrowing and family sharing.” (Wolfson, 112). This image is of a nearly perfect first edition of Pride & Prejudice at the National Library of Scotland – Mansfield Park would have looked like this, bound in blue-gray paper boards, with gray-brown or off-white paper backstrips and white paper spine labels. As Egerton engaged two different printers, many variations in quality and type result in the text. The volumes are 12mo, or duodecimo [about 7-8 inches], i.e. the original printed sheet has been folded four times to its constituent 12 leaves, resulting in 24 pages with about 23 lines to the page. [Note that P&P had 23 lines to the page; MP had 25 lines]

R. W. Chapman, editor of the Oxford complete works in 1923, writes in his memoir The Portrait of a Scholar:

“Those who have once read P&P in three slim duodecimos, with a ha’porth [= a halfpennyworth] of large type to the page, will not easily reconcile themselves to the inelegance of the modern reprint, close printed in one crowded volume.”  

…as you can see from this first page of Pride & Prejudice: FirstEdP&P - firstpage 4
But Mansfield Park was printed on much cheaper paper than P&P, with 25 lines to the page. Chapman, who relied on the 2nd edition of MP for his Oxford works, said that “of all the editions of the novels, the 1st edition of Mansfield Park is by far the worst printed.” (Chapman, xi-xii). Much scholarly debate has centered around the errors in the text, especially the lack of consistency in the spelling, grammar, and punctuation. We are reminded of Henry Tilney’s complaint to Catherine Morland about women letter-writers, where there is “a general deficiency of subject, a total inattention to stops, and a very frequent ignorance of grammar,” a criticism often directed at Austen herself! (I discuss this further under the 2nd edition below).

~

*Who bought copies? 

-At a cost of 18s in boards – remember: 20 shillings = a pound – the average person earned maybe 15-20 pounds / year – so who was actually buying books? [See Wolfson on this]

  • ½ purchased by circulating libraries
  • ½ were purchased by the titled gentry and upper middle classes, who would often rebind the volumes in leather for their private libraries, an example here:

MP-1sted-3vol-Jonkers

 Mansfield Park – 1sted, rebound – image: Jonkers Rare Books, UK

 ~

* Who reviewed it?

– There were no contemporary reviews of Mansfield Park. Wiltshire rather humorously compares this to the treatment of Fanny Price in the tale: “neglected, passed over, misunderstood, sneered at and ill-used” (Wiltshire, lvii). This lack of notice certainly distressed Austen. She kept a list of “Opinions of Mansfield Park” from family and friends (she later did the same for Emma) – a selection first appeared in James Edward Austen-Leigh’s Memoir of Jane Austen (1870), and all were published in Chapman’s edition of “Plan of a Novel” in 1926, and later reprinted in the Minor Works volume in 1954. You can read them here at Jane Austen’s Fiction Manuscripts in their original and transcribed form:

OpinionsMP-JAFM

 “Opinions of Mansfield Park” – from “Jane Austen’s Fiction Manuscripts”

As you can see, the commentary from the time differs little from today: better than P&P / not as good as P&P; Fanny not likeable / Fanny the best; love Mary Crawford / hate Mary Crawford; Will Fanny marry Henry or Edmund?; Not enough love between Hero and Heroine, etc., etc. – all the same arguments we go round and round with! I especially like Cassandra who “delighted much in Mr. Rushworth’s stupidity,” and Mrs. Austen: “My Mother — not liked it so well as P. & P. — Thought Fanny insipid. – Enjoyed Mrs. Norris.”

Austen was later piqued by the 1816 review of Emma in the Quarterly Review (March 1816), and now known to be by Walter Scott. She writes to John Murray on April 1, 1816 (Ltr.139):

The Authoress of Emma has no reason I think to complain of her treatment in it – except in the total omission of Mansfield Park. – I cannot but be sorry that so clever a Man as the Reveiwer of Emma should consider it as unworthy of being noticed.

Did Jane Austen know this review was by Scott? – We can only conjecture…

~

*Where can you see a copy?

-David Gilson, in his Bibliography of Jane Austen, lists the various institutions and individuals who own first editions of Mansfield Park – certainly available for viewing in many of the major libraries in the US and UK. Of special interest is Cassandra’s copy, held by the University of Texas at Austin.

~

*The 2nd Edition:

MP-2ded-titlepageHaving sold the copyright of Pride & Prejudice to Egerton outright, Austen was unable to make any changes to its 2nd and 3rd editions. But for Mansfield Park she was able to correct the many errors of spelling and punctuation and made several technical edits. She hoped for a quick edition after November 1814 – it is not settled yet whether I do hazard a 2d Edition. We are to see Egerton today… (Ltr. 114). But Egerton did not publish – Did he refuse? Not offer good terms? Or was Jane Austen displeased with Egerton for the poor and mistake-ridden printing of the first?

She moved to the firm of John Murray to publish her Emma, and Murray took on the 2nd edition of MP as well. She writes on December 11, 1815 to Murray: I return also, Mansfield Park, as ready for a 2d Edit: I beleive, as I can make it. (Ltr. 130).

Austen likely gave him a marked up copy of the 1st edition. Succeeding editions have offered varying texts to the reading public, beginning with Richard Bentley’s “Standard Novels Series” of 1833 to Chapman’s Oxford edition of 1923, with his full textual analysis of the two editions, choosing the 2nd as the preferred text.

This analysis continues as to author intent (see for example Claudia Johnson’s “A Name to Conjure With,” Persuasions 30 (2008): 15-26), and current scholarly editions collate the two editions, updating Chapman, and offer the reader all instances of variation and a certain amount of confusion.

MP-Penguin2-ebayFor the Penguin edition of 1996, Kathryn Sutherland relies on the 1st edition and includes seven pages of textual variants between the two editions. In her Textual Lives, Sutherland explains her preference for the first edition, feeling that Chapman’s “improvements” in his Oxford edition, especially those of punctuation, were at odds with [his] commitment to ‘recovery and restoration’ of the text. (Sutherland, 2007, 292).

Claudia Johnson in her Norton Critical Edition of Mansfield Park (1998) favors the 2nd edition – she praises Chapman for his “monumental achievement” in creating the Oxford Works, but finds his practice in collating the 2 editions was at times “capricious” and without justification. In writing of all the punctuation and spelling variants, Johnson surmises that Austen may have been relying on the printer to make corrections, as was often the practice in publishing at this time in order to ensure uniform punctuation. [Johnson cites Caleb Stower The Printer’s Grammar; or, Introduction to the Art of Printing (London, 1808).] (Johnson, xviii – xix).

MP-Cambridge

John Wiltshire, in editing the 2005 Cambridge edition, returns to the text of the 2nd edition as Chapman had, concluding that both “Austen and Murray wished to produce a second edition of the novel which, whilst it may not have been closer than the first to the author’s original manuscript, would be more creditable to both.” (Wiltshire, xxxix).

~

*What did it look like?

750 copies were printed, published also on commission, Austen paying costs up front. It is again in the 3-volume format, set by three different printers, again an explanation for the lack of consistency; boards were gray-brown paper or blue-gray, on better quality paper. It was advertised in The Morning Post on February 19, 1816 and sold for 18 shillings. It did not sell well and most copies were remaindered; her costs were set against her profit on Emma, which as a result made little for her.

 

-It is important when reading your Mansfield Park to note which edition it is based on – these many variations, be they mistakes in the 1st edition, Austen’s own corrections for the 2nd, printer errors in both, or the various editorial decisions in subsequent publications, often change the meaning of the text, and trying to determine Austen’s intention just adds to the many questions we would ask her if we could…

~

Other Editions of interest:

*1st American Edition:

1stAmerEd-Swann-MP-11-21-13Mansfield Park – 1st Amer. Ed. Swann auction 11-21-13

The first of Austen’s novels to be published in America was Emma in 1816 by Matthew Carey of Philadelphia. It is unlikely that Austen knew of it. Mansfield Park first appeared in 1832 published by Carey & Lea, in two volumes, with a title page stating “by Miss Austen, Author of ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ ‘Emma,’ etc. etc.,” in drab paper boards with purple cloth spines and white paper spine labels. 1250 copies were printed, with a number of variations from the British text, most referring to the Deity, such as:

  • “Good Heaven!” = “Indeed!”
  • “Some touches of the angel” = “Some excellencies”
  • And Mr. Price’s many “By G__” are just completely omitted!

These 2-volume editions sold for around $2.00 and are quite rare today in the original boards.

~

*First Translated Edition:

Mansfield Park was first translated into French and published in a series of extracts in 1815 in the Swiss periodical Bibliothèque britannique. A year later the 4-volume Le Parc de Mansfield, ou Les Trois Cousines par l’Auteur de Raison et Sensibilité, ou Les Deux Manières d’Aimer; d’Orgueil et Préjugé, etc. Traduit de L’Anglais, par M. Henri V*****N [Vilmain], Paris, 1816, appeared. [see title page above] This translation is readily available today in a paperback reprint published by Hachette Livre.

~

*The First Sequel:

Brown-SusanPrice-cover-amMansfield Park does not have the following of P&P, where sequels and retellings abound. But of interest is the first such for MP, titled Susan Price, or Resolution by Mrs. Francis Brown (London: John Lane / Bodley Head, 1930.) It concerns Susan Price’s romance with her cousin Tom Bertram (Gilson, 423). Mrs. Brown is Edith Charlotte Hubback, great grand-daughter of Francis Austen. She also wrote continuations to S&S (Margaret Dashwood, or Interference, 1929) and a completion of The Watsons in 1928, as well as co-authored Jane Austen’s Sailor Brothers (1906).

~

 

*The First Illustrated Edition:

The topic of Jane Austen’s illustrators would take more than an entire book! – so will just here note that the first illustrated edition of any of Austen’s novels was the French translation of Persuasion as “La Famille Elliot” in 1821 – it was also the first edition to name “Miss Jane Austen” as the author.

Mansfield Park was first illustrated in the Richard Bentley one volume edition of 1833, with an engraved frontispiece and title page vignette by William Greatbatch after George Pickering. The frontispiece is of Fanny trying on the infamous necklace with the caption:

MP-1833-frontis-tp-abe2 Mansfield Park – 1833 ed. frontispiece and title page [image: ecbooks, UK (abebooks)]

“Miss Crawford smiled her approbation and hastened to complete her gift by putting the necklace around her, and making her see how well it looked.” [this differs from the text!]

The title page vignette is of Sir Thomas encountering Mr. Yates on the stage, with Tom lurking in the background:

“The moment Yates perceived Sir Thomas, he gave perhaps the very best start he had ever given in the whole course of his rehearsals.”

[You can view them here at Google Books.]

These fashions are quite from the wrong era! – looking more like those from the 1940 film of P&P! It was not until the Dent edition of 1892 by R. Brimley Johnson with the illustrations of William Cooke and decorations by F. C. Tilney (no relation to the adorable Henry!) that illustrators actually got the Regency right. And these were rather quickly replaced by the Brock brothers for the Dent edition of 1898. H. M. Brock illustrated the Mansfield Park volume with a frontispiece and five plates:

MP-HMBrock-in vain

“In vain were the well-meant condescensions of Sir Thomas”

Mansfield Park, illus. H. M. Brock (Dent 1898) [Mollands]

MP-HMBrock-alone

“Miss Price all alone!”

Mansfield Park
, illus. H. M. Brock (Dent 1898) [Mollands]

And C. E. Brock later captured the same Yates / Sir Thomas scene in his Dent edition of 1908:

MP-CEBrock-Yates-SirThomas-mollands

 “A ranting young man who appeared likely to knock him down backwards”

Mansfield Park, illus. C. E. Brock (Dent 1908) [Mollands]

Our favorite illustrator Hugh Thomson, like the Brock Brothers, had a more humorous approach to the novels. As he had in his 1894 George Allen edition of P&P, Thomson illustrated Mansfield Park with a frontis and 39 line drawings. This was published in 1897 by Macmillan and included an introduction by Austin Dobson. An image here of Fanny and Henry Crawford:

MP-Thomson-hc-fanny-rop Mansfield Park, illus. Hugh Thomson (Macmillan 1897)  [Republic of Pemberley]

  Another important illustrated edition to note was the 1875 Groombridge edition (London), with a lithograph frontis and six plates after drawings by A. F. Lydon (Alexander Francis Lydon). The only Austen novel from this publisher, and hard to find today, the illustrations offer a more serious, darker vision of the novel, with purplish-gray toned illustrations emphasizing Fanny’s isolation from the Park and all those in it. (See Carroll, 67).

MP-illus-Groombridge1875-CarrollMansfield Park, illus. A. F. Lydon (Groombridge, 1875)

You can view the novel and the other plates by Lydon here at Google Books

The numerous illustrated editions that have followed, right up until today, show these varied approaches to the tone of this novel. I’ve read Mansfield Park a good number of times – I find I would take a very different view from one reading to the next if I was attempting to illustrate the text. What about you? – how would you illustrate MP?

~

*What is it worth today?

-Prices vary, so this is a ball-park estimate with a few recent auction examples: note that the book in its original state, i.e. the paper-covered boards in the case of Mansfield Park, will have a higher value than even the most beautifully bound set – this is the first rule of book collecting; condition, condition, condition is the second! These estimates noted here are taken from the Quill & Brush Author Price Guide for Jane Austen, 2007, and are based on auction sales and bookseller catalogues.

  • 1st edition: in original boards = $75, 000. / rebound = $25,000.
  • 2nd edition: in original boards = $25,000. / rebound = $5,000.
  • 1st American ed.: in original boards = $10,000. / rebound = $3,500. – rare in original boards
  • Bentley edition of 1833: vary from $3,000 – $5,000.

Available at present online are two 1st editions, all rebound and of varying condition – one is on sale for $15,000, one is for $38,000. There is also a 2nd edition in original boards online for $10,000. You can begin your search here at abebooks.com.

MP-1stEd-leather-Sothebys-MP-12-5-13

Mansfield Park – 1st ed. Sothebys 12-5-13

Recent Auctions:

1. This 1st edition sold at Sothebys in December 1813 for $13,750.; but a rebound 2nd edition recently sold for as little as $688. – so buyer beware!

2. 1st American edition, 2vols, Philadelphia: Carey & Lea, 1832. 8vo, original publisher’s 1/4 cloth-backed drab boards, lettering labels on. Estimate $4,000 – 6,000.; Price Realized $5,376.

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

This only gives a brief introduction to the very varied and interesting publishing history of Austen’s third novel, with all the decorative bindings, illustrators, and scholarly editing and introductions not being touched upon here. She of course saw only the first and second editions, in their drab boards – what would she make of this visual feast of editions through the past 200 years? What would she think of the great variety of illustrations of her Fanny and Edmund, and Mary and Henry Crawford, Lady Bertram and her pug, and Sir Thomas and Mrs. Norris? And while she earned a meager £320 for Mansfield Park alone, what would she think of the costs of these first editions today?

A full collection of Mansfield Park will not take up as much space on your bookshelves as a collection of Pride & Prejudice – but the variety is just as beautiful and desirable – whether you think Fanny a “creep-mouse” or an independent woman who learns to value herself as others finally do, the book itself, in all its many incarnations, will always be worth your study, will always satisfy your collecting habits – like Fanny herself, you too can become “a subscriber – amazed at being anything in propria persona, amazed at [your] own doings in every way; to be a renter, a chuser of books!”

~

One of my favorite covers: MP-Routledge-1900-LastingWords

Mansfield Park (Routledge, 1900) – Lasting Words, UK for sale for £125 on abebooks

 *****************

Further reading: with lots of Mansfield Park bindings!

References:

Austen, Jane. Jane Austen’s Letters. 3rd ed., edited by Deirdre Le Faye. Oxford, 1997. [I have the 4th edition but alas! it is not with me at present, so I continue to cite the 3rd ed.]

_____. Mansfield Park. Ed. R. W. Chapman. Oxford, 1966.

_____. Mansfield Park. Ed. Claudia L. Johnson. Norton, 1998.

_____. Mansfield Park. Ed. James Kinsley. Introd. Jane Stabler. Oxford, 2008.

_____. Mansfield Park. Ed. Kathryn Sutherland. Penguin, 1996.

_____. Mansfield Park. Ed. John Wiltshire. Cambridge, 2005.

_____. “Opinions of Mansfield Park.” Jane Austen’s Fiction Manuscripts. http://www.janeausten.ac.uk/manuscripts/blopinions/1.html

Carroll, Laura, and John Wiltshire. “Jane Austen, Illustrated.” A Companion to Jane Austen. Ed. Claudia L. Johnson and Clara Tuite. Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. 62-77.

Chapman, R. W. Portrait of a Scholar. Oxford, 1923.

Gilson, David. A Bibliography of Jane Austen. Oak Knoll, 1997. The most invaluable resource of all. If you are collecting Jane Austen, you need this book!

Karounos, Michael. “Ordination and Revolution in Mansfield Park.” SEL 44.4 (2004): 715-36.

Sutherland, Kathryn. Jane Austen’s Textual Lives: From Aeschylus to Bollywood. Oxford, 2007.

Todd, Janet. The Cambridge Introduction to Jane Austen. Cambridge, 2006.

Wolfson, Susan J. “Re: Reading Pride and Prejudice ‘What Think you of Books?’” A Companion to Jane Austen. Ed. Claudia L. Johnson and Clara Tuite. Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. 112-22.

~

The Chronology of Mansfield Park:

They both argue for a 1808-09 time frame beginning with the Ball in December.

  • Brian Southam in his “The Silence of the Bertrams.” (TLS 17 Feb 1995: 13) argues for an 1812-13 scheme.

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

MP-Thomson-1897-horse2

“How much I used to dread riding”

Mansfield Park, illus. Hugh Thomson (Macmillan 1897) [Internet Archive]

 

c2014, Jane Austen in Vermont

Jane Austen on Her Mansfield Park

Jane Austen on Her Mansfield Park

As we begin celebrating the bicentenary of the publication of Mansfield Park [it was first advertised on May 9, 1814 in The Star], I post here all the references that Jane Austen made in her letters to her third book. My intention for the year ahead is to post about MP’s publishing history and the variety of illustrated and collectible editions. Then a post on Austen’s own “Opinions of Mansfield Park” where she collected and recorded all the comments from family and friends [she also did this for Emma] – she may have called P&P her “own darling Child” – but I think it is “universally acknowledged” that her very own favorite was MP – she seemed most concerned about others’ reactions to it and was discouraged that no review of MP appeared at the time of its publication.  And then I will post on sequels / continuations – not as many as the other works [doesn’t anyone think of Edmund as a romantic Hero? – why hasn’t an oversized sculpture of him been dragged into the Serpentine?], but interesting all the same!  … But first: her own commentary on MP – again, there is that feeling of Austen hovering over my shoulder as I read the letters – if only one could ask the many questions we all have – if you could, what would you ask Jane Austen about Mansfield Park?

References:


1. Austen, Jane.  Jane Austen’s Letters.  3rd ed., edited by Deirdre Le Faye. Oxford, 1997. [I have the 4th edition but alas! it is not with me at present, so I continue to cite the 3rd ed.]
2. _____. Mansfield Park. Introd. Jane Stabler. Oxford, 2008, c2003.
2. Gilson, David. A Bibliography of Jane Austen. Oak Knoll, 1997.

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MP-1sted-titlepage

              Image: Mansfield Park 1st edition, Printed for T. Egerton, 1814.

According to Cassandra Austen’s memorandum with regard to the writing of the novels, Austen was working on Mansfield Park from February 1811, finished soon after June 1813. These early letters make it clear that Cassandra was familiar with the story all along…

  • Ltr. 78 Sunday 24 January 1813 from Chawton to Cassandra at Steventon (p. 198-99)

I learn from Sir J. Carr that there is no Government House at Gibraltar. – I must alter it to the Commissioner’s.  

NOTE:  The Commissioner held a shore-posting, usually as rank of Captain; often given to injured sea officers. He was responsible to the administration of naval accounts at a local level. [MP, Oxford, 410]

John_Carr_1809-wp

Sir John Carr (wikipedia)

Carr is not in the Le Faye index …, but according to Gilson, this is Sir John Carr, author of Descriptive Travels in the Southern and Eastern parts of Spain and the Balearic Isles in the year 1809. (1811) – and what Austen must have read to confirm this information [Gilson, 48]

see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sir_John_Carr

Austen uses it here:

He [Henry Crawford] honoured the warm–hearted, blunt fondness of the young sailor [William Price], which led him to say, with his hands stretched towards Fanny’s head, “Do you know, I begin to like that queer fashion already, though when I first heard of such things being done in England, I could not believe it; and when Mrs. Brown, and the other women at the Commissioner’s at Gibraltar, appeared in the same trim, I thought they were mad; but Fanny can reconcile me to anything”… [MP, Vol. II, ch. vi]

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

In the same letter (78), Austen writes:

As soon as a Whist party was formed & a round Table threatened, I made my Mother an excuse, & came away; leaving just as many for their round Table, as there were at Ms. Grants. – I wish they might be as agreable a set.  

NOTE:  round table = eleven, less 4 for whist, and JA, leaves 6. The round table in MP consisted of Lady Bertram and Edmund, 2 Prices, and 2 Crawfords [Le Faye, 410].

****************** 

  • Ltr. 79. Friday 29 January 1813. From Chawton to Cassandra at Steventon (p. 202)

After a rather lengthy paragraph on the publication of Pride and Prejudice, Austen jumps into another topic:

Now I will try to write of something else; – it shall be a complete change of subject – Ordination. I am glad to find your enquiries have ended so well. – If you discover whether Northamptonshire is a Country of Hedgerows, I sh’d be glad again.

NOTE: This line has led early scholars to believe that she was referring to the theme of her newest novel – but if we notice the previous letter’s references to MP, we know that she is nearly half-way through its composition.  Le Faye notes that the “enqueries” no doubt refer to the time necessary for the process of ordination – i.e. how long Edmund Bertram might be kept away from Mansfield Park for this purpose.  Cassandra was then staying with James Austen, and could have provided these details. [Le Faye, 411]

Speed_Northampton-wp

Image: 17th century map of Northamptonshire, by John Speed (wikipedia)

NOTE: The hedgerows reference: Chapman assumed this meant Austen was thinking of using the device in MP she later uses in Persuasion [Anne overhearing the conversation between Capt. Wentworth and Louisa] – Cassandra told her there were no hedgerows in Northamptonshire – but she does use this in MP:

“This is pretty, very pretty,” said Fanny, looking around her as they were thus sitting together one day; “every time I come into this shrubbery I am more struck with its growth and beauty. Three years ago, this was nothing but a rough hedgerow along the upper side of the field, never thought of as anything, or capable of becoming anything;…” [MP, vol. II, ch. IV]

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

  • Ltr. 82 Tuesday 16 February 1813. From Chawton to Martha Lloyd [in Kintsbury]. (p. 208).

A reference to her questions about Northamptonshire as in the above letter to Cassandra.

I am obliged to you for your inquiries about Northamptonshire, but do not wish you to renew them, as I am sure of getting the intelligence I want from Henry, to whom I can apply at some convenient moment “sans peur et sans reproche.” [without fear and without reproach]

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

  • Ltr.  86. Saturday 3 – Tuesday 6 July 1813. From Chawton to Capt. Francis Austen on the HMS Elephant, Baltic. (p. 217)

    FrancisAusten-wp

    Francis Austen (wikipedia)

Here she refers to MP as not being as entertaining as P&P, and asks her sailor brother if she can mention his Ships:

You will be glad to hear that every Copy of S&S is sold…I have now therefore written myself into £250. – which only makes me long for more. I have something in hand – which I hope on the credit of P. & P. will sell well, tho’ not half so entertaining. And by the bye – shall you object to my mentioning the Elephant in it, & two or three other of your old Ships? – I have done it, but it shall not stay, to make you angry. – They are only just mentioned.

NOTE: the ships mentioned in MP are the Cleopatra, Elephant, and Endymion.

 

HMS_Cleopatra_(1779)-wp
Image: HMS Cleopatra, by Nicholas Pocock (Wikipedia) 

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  • Ltr. 90. Saturday 25 September 1813.  From Godmersham Park To Francis Austen, HMS Elephant, Baltic. (p. 231) 

Where she thanks her brother for permission to use his ships, tells him that the great Secret of her as author is now quite public, and goes on to lay the blame on Henry for telling all!

I thank you very warmly for your kind consent to my application & the kind hint which followed it. – I was previously aware of what I sh’d be laying myself open to – but the truth is that the Secret has spread so far as to be scarcely the Shadow of a secret  now – & that I believe whenever the 3d appears, I shall not even attempt to tell Lies about it. – I shall rather try to make all the Money than all the Mystery I can of it. –  People shall pay for their Knowledge if I can make them…

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  • Ltr. 97. Wednesday 2 – Thursday 3 March 1814. From London (Henrietta St.) to Cassandra in Chawton. (p. 255-56)

Austen is travelling with Henry to London – it is assumed the reading she refers to is the proof-sheets of MP – she is returning to London in hopes of having Egerton publish the book in April.

We did not begin reading till Bentley Green.  Henry’s approbation hitherto is even equal to my wishes; he says it is very different from the other two, but not appear to think it at all inferior. He has only married Mrs. R. I am afraid he has gone through the most entertaining part. – He took to Lady B. & Mrs. N most kindly, & gives great praise to the drawing of the Characters. He understands them all, likes Fanny & I think foresees how it will all be.

 And later:

Henry is going on with Mansfield Park; he admires H. Crawford – I mean properly – as a clever, pleasant Man. – I tell you all the Good I can, as I know how much you will enjoy it…
 Brock2-reading-mollands

Image: “His [Henry Crawford] reading was capital.”  Vol. III, ch. iii.  (Mollands) 

Austen makes reference to a “Frederick” when referring to Christopher (Tilson) Chowne – it has been suggested that perhaps he played the role of Frederick in Lovers’ Vows at one of many amateur theatricals at Steventon. [Le Faye, 429]

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  • Ltr. 98. Saturday 5 – Tuesday 8 March 1814. From Henrietta St. to Cassandra at Chawton. (p. 258)

Henry has this moment said that he likes my M. P. better & better; – he is in the 3d vol. – I believe now he has changed his mind as to foreseeing the end; – he said yesterday at least that he defied anybody to say whether H. C. would be reformed, or would forget Fanny in a fortnight.  

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  • Ltr. 99. Wednesday 9 March 1814. From Henrietta St. to Cassandra at Chawton. (p. 261)

Henry has finished Mansfield Park. & his approbation has not lessened. He found the last half of the last volume extremely interesting.

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  • Ltr. 100. Monday 21 March 1814. From London (Henrietta St) to Francis Austen ? (p. 262) – fragment only

Perhaps before the end of April, Mansfield park by the author of S&S.– P.&P. may be in the World. Keep the name to yourself. I sh’d not like to have it know beforehand. 

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  • Ltr. 101. Tuesday 14 June 1814. From Chawton to Cassandra in London. (p. 263)  cover-JAClergy

In addition to their [Mr. and Mrs. Cooke] standing claims on me, they admire Mansfield Park exceedingly. Mr. Cooke says “it is the most sensible Novel he ever read” – and the manner in which I treat the Clergy, delights them very much. [Mr. Cooke was Rev. Samuel Cooke]

Image: Jane Austen and the Clergy, by Irene Collins (2004)

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  • Ltr. 102. Thursday 23 Jun 1814. From Chawton to Cassandra in London. (p. 265)

We have called upon Miss Dusautoy & Miss Papillon & been very pretty. – Miss D. has a great idea of being Fanny Price, she & her youngest sister together, who is named Fanny. 

Fanny- Sylvestra-dashwoodblog

Image:  Fanny Price – Sylvestra Le Touzel as Fanny, MP (BBC, 1983)
(Miss Dashwood blog) 

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  • Ltr. 106. Friday 2 September 1814. From London (Henrietta St) to Martha Lloyd in Bath. (p. 274)

Mr. Barlowe is to dine with us today, & I am in some hope of getting Egerton’s account before I go away.

NOTE:  Mr. Barlowe is an employee of Henry’s London bank – she refers here to Egerton’s account of the 1st edition of MP. [Le Faye, 436.]

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  • Ltr. 109. Friday 18-Sunday 20 November 1814. From Chawton to Fanny Knight at Goodnestone Park, Kent. (p. 281)

GoodnestonePark

Image: Goodnestone Park website

You will be glad to hear that the first Edit. of M.P. is all sold. – Your Uncle Henry is rather wanting me to come to Town, to settle about a 2d Edit: – but as I could not very conveniently leave home now, I have written him my Will & pleasure, & unless he still urges it, shall not go. – I am very greedy and want to make the most of it; – but as you are much above caring about money, I shall not plague with my particulars.- The pleasures of Vanity are more within your comprehension, & you will enter into mine, at receiving the praise which every now & then comes to me, through some channel or other.-  

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  • Ltr. 110. Tuesday 22 November 1814. From Chawton to Anna Lefroy in Hendon. (p. 282)

Make everybody at Hendon admire Mansfield Park.- 

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  • Ltr. 111. ?Thursday 24 November 1814. From Chawton to Anna Lefroy in Hendon. (p. 282-83)

Mrs. Creed’s opinion is gone down on my list [i.e. her opinions of MP list]; but fortunately I may excuse myself from entering Mr as my paper only relates to Mansfield Park. I will redeem my credit with him, by writing a close Imitation of “Self-control” as soon as I can; – I will improve upon it… 

Mary Brunton (Wikipedia)

Mary Brunton (Wikipedia)

NOTE: Self-Control was a novel written by Mary Brunton (1811) – Austen refers to it in her letters three times:

Ltr. 72 (p. 186): We have tried to get Self-controul, but in vain.- I should like to know where her Estimate is – but am always half afraid of finding a clever novel too clever – & of finding my own story & my own people all forestalled.

Ltr. 91 (p. 234). I am looking over Self-Control again, & my opinion is confirmed of its’ being an excellently-meant, elegantly-written Work, without anything of Nature or Probability in it. I declare I do not know whether Laura’s passage down the American River, is not the most natural, possible, every-day thing she ever does.

Ltr. 111 (p. 283). I will redeem my credit with him, by writing a close Imitation of “Self-control” as soon as I can; – I will improve upon it; – my Heroine shall not merely be wafted down an American river in a boat by herself, she shall cross the Atlantic in the same way, & never stop till she reaches Gravesent.-

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  • Ltr. 114. 30 November 1814. From London (Hans Place) to Fanny Knight at Godmersham Park, Kent. (p. 287)

Contains one of Austen’s most-quoted lines:

Thank you – but it is not settled yet whether I do hazard a 2d Edition. We are to see Egerton today, when it will probably be determined. – People are more ready to borrow & praise, than to buy – which I cannot wonder at; – but tho’ I like praise as well as anybody, I like what Edward calls Pewter too. 

NOTE: We know that Egerton did not publish this hoped for 2nd edition – Did he refuse? Did he not offer good terms? Or was Jane Austen displeased with Egerton’s printing of the 1st edition? We do not know, but Austen moved to the firm of John Murray to publish her Emma, and Murray took on the 2nd ed of MP, which was published on February 19, 1816.

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John Murray (Wikipedia)

John Murray (Wikipedia)

  • Ltr. 121. Tuesday 17 – Wednessday 18 October 1815. From London (Hans Place)to Cassandra at Chawton. (p. 291)

Mr Murray’s Letter is come; he is a Rogue of course, but a civil one. He offers £450- but wants to have the Copyright of MP. & S&S included. It will end in my publishing for myself I dare say. – He sends more praise however than I expected. It is an amusing Letter. You shall see it. 

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  • Ltr. 122 (A) (D). ?Friday 20 / Saturday 21 October 1815. From Henry Austen in London to John Murray [in
    Henry Austen

    Henry Austen

    London]. (p. 293-94)

I include this letter because it shows Henry’s involvement in his sister’s publishing history – he was very ill at the time and Jane was his nurse.  She was in London at Hans Place to negotiate the publication of Emma, as well as the 2nd ed. of MP… [see my previous post on this letter ] – I just love the line: “great Error in my Arithmetical Calculation”!

[A Letter to Mr. Murray which Henry dictated a few days after his Illness began, & just before the severe Relapse which threw him into such Danger. – ]

Dear Sir

Severe illness has confined me to my Bed ever since I received Yours of ye 15th – I cannot yet hold a pen, & employ an Amuensis [sic]. – The Politeness & Perspicuity of your Letter equally claim my earliest Exertion. – Your official opinion of the Merits of Emma, is very valuable & satisfactory. – Though I venture to differ occasionally from your Critique, yet I assure you the Quantum of your commendation rather exceeds than falls short of the Author’s expectation & my own. – The Terms you offer are so very inferior to what we had expected, that I am apprehensive of having made some great Error in my Arithmetical Calculation. – On the subject of the expense & profit of publishing, you must be much better informed that I am; – but Documents in my possession appear to prove that the Sum offered by you, for the Copyright of Sense & Sensibility, Mansfield Park & Emma, is not equal to the Money which my Sister has actually cleared by one very moderate Edition of Mansfield Park –(You Yourself expressed astonishment that so small an Edit. of such a work should have been sent into the World) & a still smaller one of Sense & Sensibility.- …

Image of Henry Austen: Jasna.org, essay by Kristen Miller Zohn

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  • Ltr.  124. Friday 3 November 1815.  From London (Hans Place) to John Murray. (p. 295)

I mention this letter because it shows how involved Jane Austen was in her own publishing ventures.  Here she writes about Henry being ill, requesting Murray to visit her at Hans Place to discuss Emma – she might have wished to also talk about the 2nd edition of MP – note that the drafted letter above to Murray was actually not sent until after this one; it also has one of my favorite lines from the letters, which I have underlined

Sir

My Brother’s severe Illness has prevented his replying to Yours of Oct. 15, on the subject of the MS of Emma, now in your hands-and as he is, though recovering, still in a state which we are fearful of harrassing by Business & I am at the same time desirous of coming to some decision on the affair in question, I must request the favour of you to call on me here, any day that may suit you best, at any hour in the Evening, or any in the Morning except from Eleven to One. – A short conversation may perhaps do more than much Writing.

My Brother begs his Compts  & best Thanks for your polite attention in supplying him with a Copy of Waterloo.

   I am Sir
Your Ob. Hum: Servt
Jane Austen

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  • Ltr. 125 (A). Thursday 16 November 1815. From James Stanier Clarke (Carlton House) to Jane Austen at Hans Place, London. (p. 296)

I include this because Clarke singles out MP so, which must have gratified her very much! I think Clarke had quite the crush on Jane Austen:

Your late Works, Madam, and in particular Mansfield Park reflect the highest honour on your Genius & your Principles; in every new work your mind seems to increase its energy and powers of discrimination. The Regent has read & admired all your publications…

James_Stanier_Clarke-wp.pg

Image: James Stanier Clarke (wikipedia)

NOTE:  See more on the letters between Austen and Clarke and her visit to Carlton House here: https://janeausteninvermont.wordpress.com/2010/11/13/a-visit-to-carlton-house-november-13-1815/

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  • Ltr. 128. Sunday 26 November 1815. From London (Hans Place) to Cassandra [at Chawton ]. (p. 301)

Mr. H. [Haden] is reading Mansfield Park for the first time & prefers it to P&P.

NOTE:  I think Austen and / or her niece Fanny had a wild crush on Charles Thomas Haden. He was a London surgeon. She calls him ” a sort of wonderful nondescript Creature on two Legs, something between a Man & an Angel” [Le Faye, Ltr. 129, p. 303)

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  • Ltr. 130. Monday 11 December 1815. From London (Hans Place) to John Murray in London. (p. 305)

I return also, Mansfield Park, as ready for a 2d Edit: I believe, as I can make it.

NOTE:  It is unknown whether Austen gave Murray a marked-up copy of the first edition [which had many errors], or she was working from new galleys…

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  • Ltr. 132(D). Monday 11 December 1815. From London (Hans Place) to James Stanier Clarke (London). (p. 306)

I must make use of this opportunity to thank you, dear Sir, for the very high praise you bestow on my other Novels – I am too vain to wish to convince you that you have praised them beyond their Merit.

My greatest anxiety at present is that this 4th work shd not disgrace what was good in the others. … I am very strongly haunted with the idea that to those Readers who have preferred P&P. it will appear inferior in Wit, & to those who have preferred MP. very inferior in good Sense.  

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  • Ltr. 134(A). Wednesday 27 December 1815. From the Countess of Morley at Saltram to Jane Austen at Chawton. (p. 308)

I am already become intimate in the Woodhouse family, & feel that they will not amuse & interest me less than the Bennetts [sic], Bertrams, Norriss & all their admirable predecessors – I can give them no higher praise-

NOTE:  At the time, many believed the Countess of Morley to be the Authoress of both S&S and P&P.

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  • Ltr. 139. Monday 1 April 1816. From Chawton to John Murray in London. (p. 313)

Dear Sir,

   I return you the Quarterly Review with many Thanks. The Authoress of Emma has no reason I think to complain of her treatment in it – except in the total omission of Mansfield Park. – I cannot but be sorry that so clever a Man as the Reveiwer of Emma should consider it as unworthy of being noticed.

This is Austen’s final word on MP in her letters: she is peeved that MP is not mentioned in this anonymous review – we know now this reviewer of Emma was Sir Walter Scott, but did Austen know that?? Recall that she wrote this about him to her niece Anna, tongue in cheek of course, as we know that she liked his work very much:

Sir_Henry_Raeburn_-_Portrait_of_Sir_Walter_Scott-wp

Image: Portrait of Sir Walter Scott, by Henry Raeburn (wikipedia)

Walter Scott has no business to write novels, especially good ones. – It is not fair. – He has Fame & Profit enough as a Poet, and should not be taking the bread out of other people’s mouths. – I do not like him, & do not mean to like Waverley if I can help it-but fear I must. [Ltr. 108, p. 277]

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CEBrock-MP-beautiful-mollands

Image: C.E. Brock – “Oh, this is beautiful indeed!”
Mansfield Park, Vol. II, ch. ix (Mollands)

Stay tuned for more on Mansfield Park. You might also like to follow Sarah Emsley’s (and guests’) blog posts on MP, which will begin in May: http://sarahemsley.com/2014/01/01/200-years-of-mansfield-park/

And I ask again: if you could, what would you ask Jane Austen about Mansfield Park?

c2014, Jane Austen in Vermont

A Letter from Henry Austen ~ October 20-21, 1815

Henry Austen

Today in Jane Austen’s life: October 21, 1815

One of my favorite letters in the collection Jane Austen’s Letters, ed. by Deirdre Le Faye (Oxford, 1995) is Letter No. 122 (A)(D), 21 October 1815.  This is a draft of a letter from Henry Austen to John Murray on his sister’s behalf and it gives us the rare direct glimpse into the wit of Henry Austen. Jane Austen is in Town and working on negotiations with John Murray for the publication of Emma. This is the visit of her famous meeting with the Prince Regent’s Librarian James Stanier Clarke and his request for Austen to dedicate her next work to the Regent.  The amusing correspondence between Austen and Clarke follow this letter, as well as Austen’s own letters to Murray, written directly to the publisher due to Henry’s grave illness and his inability to correspond.  These, plus her few letters to Cassandra during this time, are strong evidence of  Austen’s direct involvement and concerns in the negotiations and publication of her work – all these letters make great reading!  But today, let’s just look at Henry’s letter:

  ?Friday 20 / Saturday 21 October 1815

[A Letter to Mr. Murray which Henry dictated a few days after his Illness began, & just before the severe Relapse which threw him into such Danger. – ]

Dear Sir

Severe illness has confined me to my Bed ever since I received Yours of ye 15th – I cannot yet hold a pen, & employ an Amuensis [sic]. – The Politeness & Perspicuity of your Letter equally claim my earliest Exertion. – Your official opinion of the Merits of Emma, is very valuable & satisfactory. – Though I venture to differ occasionally from your Critique, yet I assure you the Quantum of your commendation rather exceeds than falls short of the Author’s expectation & my own. – The Terms you offer are so very inferior to what we had expected, that I am apprehensive of having made some great Error in my Arithmetical Calculation. – On the subject of the expense & profit of publishing, you must be much better informed that I am; – but Documents in my possession appear to prove that the Sum offered by you, for the Copyright of Sense & Sensibility, Mansfield Park & Emma, is not equal to the Money which my Sister has actually cleared by one very moderate Edition of Mansfield Park –(You Yourself expressed astonishment that so small an Edit. of such a work should have been sent into the World) & a still smaller one of Sense & Sensibility…

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Such a Brother was he! – a good businessman and witty in the process! an ‘error in my Arithmetical Calculation’ indeed!

Henry’s very serious illness prompted Austen to call all her family members to his bedside, and it was not until a few weeks later that Austen herself takes on the writing of letters to Murray to complete the Emma negotiations – she writes requesting him to call on her in Hans Place because “a short conversation may perhaps do more than much Writing.”  [Ltr. 124, Nov. 3, 1815; To John Murray]

[Henry’s Draft letter in Austen’s hand is in the Bodleian Library; a facsimile is in Modert, F-361 and F-362]