28 November 2001
[AUSTEN, Jane (1775-1817)]. Sense and Sensibility: A novel ... by a lady. London: for the author by C. Roworth and published by T. Egerton, 1811.
12° (172 x 116mm). (Lacking half-titles and final blanks, some spotting and light browning, vol. II with quire B partially detached, G12 of the same vol. with deep horizontal tear through 4 lines of text, H10 with long horizontal tear affecting one line of text on verso, quire B in vol. III also partially detached.) Contemporary black straight-grained half morocco by Povey of Wotton, covers with roll-tool palmettes in blind, flat spines divided by multiple gilt fillets, title and volume numbers in gilt, ornaments in blind (spines rubbed, joints slightly splitting). Provenance: Duke of Beaufort (bookplate).
FIRST EDITION OF JANE AUSTEN'S FIRST PUBLISHED NOVEL which grew from a sketch entitled Elinor and Marianne, written in 1795 in the form of letters; it was revised 1797-1798 at Steventon; and again in 1809-1810, the first year of Jane Austen's residence at Chawton. Thomas Egerton undertook publication on a commission basis, and Jane Austen '"actually made a reserve from her very moderate income to meet the expected loss."' The price of the new novel was 15 shillings in boards, advertisements first appearing for it on 30 October 1811. Keynes suggests that the edition, printed in Caslon Pica roman, was 'only 1000 copies or even less.' When it sold out in less than two years, Jane Austen wrote delightedly to her brother Francis (3 July 1813): 'You will be glad to hear that every copy of Sense and Sensibility is sold and that it has brought me £140 beside the copyright, if that should ever be of any value.' Gilson A1; Keynes 1; Sadleir 62b. (3)
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