London: Richard Bentley, 1833. First Collected Edition. 5 volumes, octavo (162 x 106 mm). Contemporary green calf, expertly rebacked to style, red morocco labels, gilt double rule and blind roll to covers, gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers and sides. Engraved vignette titles and frontispieces by William Greatbach after Ferdinand Pickering. Bound without half-titles, terminal blanks and advertisements. Bindings refurbished and in fine condition. Contents without any chipping or tearing; some light foxing, plates a little browned, light running stain to Sense and Sensibility pp. 37-62, offset discolouration to rear endpapers of Pride and Prejudice, light creasing to a few corners. A very good set.
First collected edition of Jane Austen’s novels. In 1832-33 Richard Bentley bought the copyright of Pride and Prejudice from the executors of Thomas Egerton and of the remaining novels from Henry and Cassandra Austen. Austen's novels had not been reissued since 1818 so these printings - published by the enterprising Bentley in his Standard Novels series - constitute early editions: Sense and Sensibility, third edition (pre-dating the first American by a few months); Pride and Prejudice, fourth edition; Mansfield Park, third edition; Emma, second edition (omitting the dedication to the Prince Regent included in the first edition); Northanger Abbey/Persuasion, second edition. These are also the first English editions to be illustrated. The very first Austen illustration appeared in a French translation of Persuasion (entitled La Famille Elliot) with a frontispiece by Delvaux after Chasselat (Paris: A. Bertrand, 1821). The Bentley illustrations, by the obscure Ferdinand Pickering, played an integral part in the reception of Austen’s novels; according to one Austen scholar, they “promoted a sense that her novels were best understood as familial, female focused, and sensational. For decades, these illustrations would have served to steer readers away from the conclusion that Austen’s fiction ought to be understood as social, comic, or didactic” (Davoney Looser, The Making of Jane Austen, 2017, p. 20).
With a charming contemporary inscription to the front endpaper of each volume, “J. L. Boulter. The gift of my beloved pupils Theophila and Sarah Mary Spencer, Banstead Park”; Northanger Abbey/Persuasion with an additional ownership signature underneath “Charles Richardson 1910”.
Gilson D1-5; Sadleir 3735a. Near Fine (Item #3006)