PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
First edition in three volumes in contemporary binding.
Printed for T. Egerton 1813
Three volumes, bound in contemporary brown speckled calf. Green morocco title labels and gilt rules to the spine. "Charleton" embossed in gilt to upper board of each volume. Half titles present in each volume.
The author’s second and most famous novel, which has become one of the most prominent literary works to come from the nineteenth century.
The first draft of the novel was written under the working title of ‘First Impressions’ in 1796. In 1797 Jane Austen’s father wrote to the publisher Cadell to ask if he would publish the novel. The offer was rejected by return of post. In 1800 The Minerva Press published a novel by Margaret Holford entitled First Impressions, which probably led to Austen changing the title of the work. In the following years, Pride and Prejudice was heavily rewritten and the copyright eventually sold to Egerton in 1812. There is no record of the number of copies of the first edition, but Keynes suggests 1500 as the probable print run.
The book was well received and the first edition sold out within the year and one contemporary reader wrote, “I have finished the Novel called Pride and Prejudice, which I think is a very superior work... I really think it is the most probable fiction I have ever read.”
The association with Susan Carnegie is intriguing. Born in Edinburgh, she lived at Charleton from her marriage to George Carnegie in 1769 until her death in 1821. She was one of the most prominent early femists who "... learned to challenge the idea that women were intellectually less able than men, choosing instead to explain discrepancies in terms of women’s educational opportunities and their general treatment in a patriarchal society. Certainly in her correspondence Susan was fearless in drawing attention to a lack of respect or of rudeness on the part of male writers." (Oxford DNB)
As a rule Regency binders removed the half titles so copies in contemporary bindings retaining them are rare; the copies in such prominent collections as Sir Geoffrey Keynes’s and R.W.Chapman’s all had no half titles, nor do the Bodleian or Cambridge University library copies.
PROVENANCE: Charleton (Probably Charleton House, Montrose home of the feminist writer and philanthropist Susan Carnegie (1744-1821)); Frida Best (1876-1964, artist and music historian, bookplate to endpapers).
A tall copy with each volume neatly rebacked, retaining most of the original spines with repairs to the joints and corners. Internally clean with occasional minor marks or foxing and a couple of marginal closed tears to leaves in volume III. Bookplate to the verso of each front endpaper. A very good example of of Austen's most popular novel, now rarely encountered in a contemporary binding.
(Stock Code: 32494)