First Edition of Jane Austen's First NovelJane Austen. Sense and Sensibility. London: T. Egerton, 1811. First edition. Three twelvemo volumes (6.75 x 4.25 inches; 171 x 108 mm). Bound without the half-titles; volume 3 without terminal blank. Half brown calf over marbled boards rebacked to style, smooth spines tooled in gilt in compartments, gilt black morocco lettering pieces, coated yellow endpapers. Engraved armorial bookplate of James Thomas Robarts affixed to front pastedowns. Light wear to extremities with some abrasion, just exposing pasteboards on corners and in a few places along board edges. Volume 3 spine is darkened, and the gilt spine tooling has faded nearly to blind on volumes 2 and 3 and on all six lettering pieces. Occasional light finger soiling, foxing throughout. In volume 1 a closed tear to the outer margin of leaf C11, touching text with no loss, and a small marginal hole to D1; in volume 2 the lower outer corner of B1 torn away but no loss to text. Overall, a very good copy.
A lovely copy of the first edition of Jane Austen's first novel, as Keynes has it the first edition "Probably it consisted of only 1000 copies or even less, and this would account for the fact that Sense and Sensibility is so much the rarest of the novels at the present day." Austen's works were popular enough in her own time, but in 1869 her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh published A Memoir of Jane Austen, a book that helped a new generation of readers discover the novels and reinvigorated sales that increased continuously throughout the nineteenth century. By the middle of the twentieth century Austen's works were taught regularly in English literature courses, and Austen herself was regarded by most serious critics and scholars as one of the greatest novelists in English history, lauded for her irony, wit, and trenchant commentary about the place of women in Regency England. Today Austen's position in the canon is firm, and partly because of numerous film adaptations she remains as popular among a general readership as she does among academics -- a not insignificant percentage of whom participate in Janeite fan culture activities including reenactments, fan fiction, and Regency balls. Gilson A1. Keynes 1. Sadleir 62a.
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