Pride and Prejudice; A Novel. In Three Volumes

Jane Austen's Rarest Novel
In Contemporary Calf With All Half Titles Present

[AUSTEN, Jane]. Pride and Prejudice: A Novel. In Three Volumes. By the Author of Sense and Sensibility. London: Printed for T. Egerton, Military Library, Whitehall, 1813.

First edition, following all points in Gilson and Keynes, and complete with all half titles present.

Three twelvemo volumes (6 5/8 x 3 7/8 in; 168 x 97 mm). [iv], 307, [1, blank]; [iv], 239, [1, blank]; [iv, [323, [1, blank] pp.

Contemporary speckled calf, blind-tooled board edges, edges sprinkled red, original light brown endpapers. Expertly rebacked with the original spines laid down. Later green morocco gilt lettering labels on spines. Gilt stamped "Charleton" to upper boards of each volume. From the library of German artist and music historian Frida Best (1876-1964), with her bookplate to each volume. Edges to a few leaves professionally and near invisibly repaired. Occasional light foxing. An excellent and complete copy in its original and contemporary binding. Housed in a modern half red morocco clamshell case with three individual spines decoratively lettered and tooled in gilt.

Regency binders routinely removed the half titles; copies with all half titles present are rare: Sadleir, Keynes, and Chapman's copies lacked them, as do the copies at the Bodleian and Cambridge University libraries.

"The first draft of PP, under the title of First Impressions… (printed as False Impressions by Lord Braybourne)…was written between October 1796 and August 1797" (Gilson p. 23). Austen made significant revisions to the manuscript for First Impressions between 1811 and 1812. She later renamed the story Pride and Prejudice. In renaming the the novel, Austen probably had in mind the "sufferings and oppositions" summarized in the final chapter of Fanny Burney's Cecilia, called "Pride and Prejudice", where the phrase appears three times in block capitals. It is possible that the novel's original title was altered to avoid confusion with other works. In the years between the completion of First Impressions and its revision into Pride and Prejudice, two other works had been published under that name: a novel by Margaret Holford and a comedy by Horace Smith.

"It was not fully revised until 1812, and the author records on January 29, 1813, that she has successfully 'lop't and crop't' the book" (Keynes). Both Gilson and Keynes suggest that only 1500 copies of the first edition were printed. The book was published at 18s in three volumes on January 28th, 1813.

Jane Austen is one of the few authors whose entire oeuvre has attained classic status, each of her six novels considered to be masterpieces, ironic social satires streaked with proto-Feminism that have only increased in popularity since their publication.

Of Austen, Virginia Woolf said, "a mistress of much deeper emotion than appears upon the surface...[possessing an] impeccable sense of human values" (in The Common Reader, Hogarth Press, pp. 102, 104).

Austen sold the copyright to Egerton for £110, not anticipating that it would become an instant hit, (if not a fully critical success) the first edition selling out very rapidly with a second edition issued in the same year.

Though we cannot be certain, we strongly suspect that the ownership stamp "Charleton" is that of Charleton House, Montrose, the home of feminist writer and philanthropist Susan Carnegie; a copy of Warnery's Remarks on Cavalry with this ownership mark sold at Bonham's in 2003.

To date over 20 million copies of Pride and Prejudice have been sold worldwide…

Gilson A3. Keynes 3. Sadleir 62b. Item #01651

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