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Annotated Reference Guide to Collectible Books

Austen, Jane

Collecting Silly Novels: Jane Austen

Jane Austen is an author whose reputation and pedigree is so vast, that it is almost impossible to recreate an accurate account of her life and importance, without giving in to partisanship! Some critical circles dismiss Austen as the producer of ‘silly Romance novels’ whilst others see in her the beginning modern sensibilities of the twentieth century.

There are several features of her work that make them collectible: their fame, their controversy, and their heritage. Austen’s fame as an author has since led her work to never be out of print. This is an incredible achievement for any contemporary author – and they have the benefit of being alive! Austen’s success has even led to the creation of a fan movement calling themselves the Janeites, who celebrate her fiction and the world of her novels online and in re-enactments across the world. What other author save Tolkien has inspired such devotion?

Austen’s controversial work however, must also not be forgot. Her very first work had to hold the by-line ‘A Lady’ as it was still mould-breaking for a women to take up the pen and to make a living writing! The subjects of her books too, albeit romances, are also controversial: they criticise the male-dominated society of Regency England, and seek to re-address the role of women in contemporary society.

For the collector, her heritage is perhaps of unique interest. By this I mean that, by collecting and studying her editions, I believe that it can reveal a window to the world of vanity and professional publishing from its very onset circa 1800 to the present day. Her very first two novels, for example, were rejected (and only later published) and she had to pay to have Sense and Sensibility published!

As Austen is so dearly beloved throughout the world, and has single-handedly changed the face of modern literature (and almost creating an entire genre all by herself!) then it is understandable that her true first editions can be indeed expensive. A true first edition of her vanity-published Sense and Sensibility, for example, is worth no less than $34,000! However, were one able to invest in such a unique item (only 750 ever printed, and now almost all of them certainly swallowed up into private collections) then you are sure to maintain a direct link between the author’s very first flush with success to the modern day.

In comparison, I would suggest looking at the history of publishers Macmillan or the more unique Gresham Publishing. Gresham, for example, has produced some very fine special editions of Pride and Prejudice in 1900, in a striking cloth bound royal blue cover, inlaid with gold illustration. Albeit published in 1900 (and a mint Gresham edition will fetch around $1000) some eighty years after it originally appeared in print, this edition can be found for as little as four or five hundred dollars, and expresses just how important Pride and Prejudice and Austen has been through the centuries.

Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. T. Egerton, London (1811).

Austen, Jane. Emma: A Novel. John Murray, London (1816).

Austen, Jane. Mansfield Park. J. Murray, London (1816).

Austen, Jane. Northanger Abbey. John Murray, London (1818).

Austen, Jane. Persuasion. Carey & Lea, Philadelphia (1832).

Austen, Jane. Mansfield Park. Richard Bentely, London (1833).

Austen, Jane. Northanger Abbey & Persuasion. Richard Bentely, London (1833).

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. Richard Bentley, London (1833).

Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. Richard Bentley, London (1833).

Austen, Jane. Mansfield Park. Richard Bentley, London (1837).

Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. Richard Bentley, London (1837).

Austen, Jane. Pride And Prejudice. Richard Bentley, London (1839).

Austen, Jane. Emma. Simms and McIntyre, London (1849).

Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. Richard Bentley, London (1856).

Austen, Jane. Mansfield Park. Richard Bentley & Son (1885).

Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. Richard Bentley, UK (1886).

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. J.M Dent & Co., London (1892).

Austen, Jane. Pride And Prejudice. Little Brown, Boston (1892).

Austen, Jane. The Novels of Jane Austen. J.M. Dent and Sons, London (1892).

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. George Allen, London (1894).

Austen, Jane. Northanger Abbey. Blackie, UK (1895).

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. Macmillan and Co., London (1895).

Austen, Jane. Emma. Macmillan and Co., London (1896).

Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. Macmillan and Co., London (1896).

Austen, Jane. Mansfield Park. Macmillan and Co., London (1897).

Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. MacMillan, NY (1897).

Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. Macmillan, London (1897).

Austen, Jane. Emma. George Allen, London (1898).

Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. Macmillan, London (1898).

Austen, Jane. The Novels of Jane Austen. Grant Richards, London (1898).

Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. George Allen, London (1899).

Austen, Jane. Mansfield Park. Routledge, UK (1900).

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. Gresham publishing, London (1900).

Austen, Jane. Emma. Macmillan, UK (1901).

Austen, Jane. Pride and Predjudice. Macmillan, UK (1901).

Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. Macmillan, UK (1901).

Austen, Jane. Northanger Abbey And Persusion. Macmillan, UK (1902).

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. George Allen, London (1903).

Austen, Jane. Emma. Macmillan, London. (1904).

Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. Macmillan and Co, London (1905).

Austen, Jane. The Novels of Jane Austen. John Grant, Edinburgh (1905).

Austen, Jane. Mansfield Park. J M Dent, UK (1906).

Austen, Jane. Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. Macmillan & Co., London (1906).

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice.. George Allen, London (1906).

Austen, Jane. The Novels and Letters of Jane Austen. Frank S. Holby, New York (1906).

Austen, Jane. Northanger Abbey. J. M. Dent & Co., London (1907).

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice.. Dent, London. (1907).

Austen, Jane. Mansfield Park. J. M. Dent & Co., London (1908).

Austen, Jane. Emma. J. M. Dent & Co., London (1909).

Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. Macmillan, UK (1909).

Austen, Jane. The Novels of Jane Austen. John Grant, Edinburgh (1911).

Austen, Jane. Pride And Prejudice. Macmillan & Co Ltd, London (1914).

Austen, Jane. The Novels & Letters of Jane Austen. Jefferson Press, Boston & New York (1915).

Austen, Jane. Mansfield Park.. Dent, London. (1922).

Austen, Jane. The Novels of Jane Austen. Clarendon Press, Oxford (1923).

Austen, Jane. The Novels of Jane Austen. The Claredon Press, Oxford (1926).

Austen, Jane. Sense & Sensibility. Macmillan, London (1928).

Austen, Jane. The Complete Novels.. Heinemann, London (1928).

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. Peter Davies, UK (1929).

Austen, Jane. Sense & Sensibility. Macmillan, London (1932).

Austen, Jane. Northanger Abbey Persuasion. Macmillan, London (1933).

Austen, Jane. Pride and prejudice. J.M. Dent & sons, ltd, London (1933).

Austen, Jane. The Novels of Jane Austen. Clarendon Press, Oxford (1933).

Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. Macmillan, UK (1937).

Austen, Jane. The Works of Jane Austen. Martin Secker, London (1939).

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. Limited Editions Club, Boston (1940).

Austen, Jane. The Novels of Jane Austen.. Clarendon Press, Oxford (1946).

Austen, Jane. The Novels of Jane Austen. Allan Wingate, London (1948).

Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. Limited Edition Club, New York (1957).

Austen, Jane. The Novels. Oxford University Press (1960).

Austen, Jane. Northanger Set of the Jane Austen Horrid Novels. Folio Society, London (1968).

Austen, Jane. Persuasion. Easton Press, Norwalk (1977).

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. Easton Press, Norwalk, Connecticut (1977).

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. Franklin Library, Franklin Center (1980).

Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. Easton Press, Norwalk, Connecticut (1985).