Pride and Prejudice
London: Printed for T. Egerton, 1813.
London: Printed for T. Egerton, 1813. First edition. A beautifully presented first edition of one of the best loved novels in English literature.
Austen was not yet 20 (like Elizabeth Bennet) when she drafted the novel, under the title First Impressions, between October 1796 and August 1797 at Steventon. It was declined by the publisher Cadell, and subsequently, underwent major revisions. The title also had to be changed to Pride & Prejudice, as the Minerva Press published a novel entitled First Impressions by Margaret Holford in 1800. Finally, in late 1812, the novel was accepted by Egerton and published in early 1813 in boards in an edition of probably 1,500 copies (Keynes). The book sold well and was obviously much talked about, not least because of the unknown identity of the author. Anne Isabella Milbanke (the future Lady Byron) called it “ a very superior work” and “the most probable fiction I have ever read.” Madame de Staël borrowed a copy during her stay in London in 1813. The dramatist Richard Sheridan described it as “the cleverest thing he [had] ever read” - whereas, according to Jane’s Brother Henry, an unidentified “gentleman” supposedly remarked that “[he] should like to know who is the author, for it is much too clever to have been written by a woman.” In fact, almost 200 years later it is as popular as ever with the number of adaptations steadily increasing.
Early 19th century binders often omitted the half titles and it is rare to find a set such as this one with all half titles present. The renowned Austen bibliographer, Geoffrey Keynes’ copy did not have half titles, nor do the Bodleian or Cambridge University library copies.
Description and Bibliographical references: First edition, 3 volumes, 12mo, half-titles, full calf by Riviere & Son, spine gilt in compartments, gilt dentelles, all edges gilt, red and tan morocco labels, half title to volume one with small repaired tear to fore-edge, some slight offsetting, a very attractive example, presented in a custom-made slip-case.
Garside and Schöwerling 1813:7; Gilson A3; Keynes 3; Sadleir 62b (Item #1699)