London: Richard Bentley, 1833. First Collected Edition. 5 volumes, octavo (165 x 100 mm). Uniformly bound in contemporary red half roan, spines lettered in gilt direct, compartments tooled in blind, marbled sides and endpapers. Engraved vignette titles and frontispieces by William Greatbach after Ferdinand Pickering. Bookplate of William Hill Buckle of Chaseley, Glos., to front pastedowns. An attractive set, expertly furbished (joints repaired, tips consolidated, gilt retouched), covers a little scuffed, inner hinges cracked but firm, contents somewhat foxed.
In 1833 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 Bentley illustrations, by the obscure Ferdinand Pickering, played an integral part in the reception of Austen's novels. As the first English illustrations of Austen's work 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" (Looser).
Gilson D1-5; Sadleir 3735a. Near Fine (Item #4216)