Fine Books and Manuscripts

Fine Books and Manuscripts

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 1005. [Austen, Jane] | Emma—Lady Guilford's copy of this "perfect" novel in the original boards.

Property from an Important American Collection

[Austen, Jane] | Emma—Lady Guilford's copy of this "perfect" novel in the original boards

Lot Closed

December 8, 07:05 PM GMT


30,000 - 40,000 USD

Lot Details


Property from an Important American Collection

Austen, Jane

Emma: A Novel. In Three Volumes. By the Author of "Pride and Prejudice", &C. &C. London: Printed for John Murray, 1816

12mo, 3 volumes (185 x 110 mm). Uncut; occasional light spotting, primarily to volume I, gatherings supplied in volumes II and III from a shorter copy, half-title and title of volume II slightly dampstained along with several leaves in volume III, M2-11 in volume III loose, occasional offsetting and staining, one or two marginal tears not affecting text. Original boards; skillfully rebacked with labels in facsimile, some rubbing to extremities. Housed in brown cloth clamshell box.

First edition—a handsome copy in the original boards with a contemporary ownership inscription.

"I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like."

Jane Austen wrote her fourth novel, and the last to be published in her lifetime, between January 1814 and March 1815. Unlike her previous novels, Austen chose to publish with John Murray. Because of the popularity of her previous novels, a large print run of 2,000 was decided upon. It was published in December 1815 (1816 on the title), and Jane Austen dedicated it to the Price Regent, George IV, who had expressed admiration of her novels. A presentation copy of the novel was sent to Carlton House.

The comedy of manners had sold 1,248 copies by the following October, and Austen expressed worry at the public regard for the novel; “I am very strongly haunted by the idea that to those Readers who have preferred P&P. it will appear inferior in Wit, & to those who have preferred MP. very inferior in good Sense.” The novel has since been revered as Austen's literary masterwork, with Emma being a complex, intelligent and captivatingly imperfect protagonist.

Of Emma, the prolific collector A. Edward Newton (see lot 1006) commented: "Between 1749, the year of 'Tom Jones,' and 1816, when a perfect novel. 'Emma,' appeared, no advance had been made in telling a story. I have called 'Emma' a 'perfect' novel: I think it is. Jane Austen used a small palette, but her colors were faultless."

Lady Maria North, Lady Guilford (1793-1841), was the only daughter of George North, 3rd Earl of Guildford. She married the Marquess of Bute in 1818, and he named a Scottish sailing galley after her.


Garside and Schöwerling 1816:16; Gilson A8; Keynes 8; Sadleir 62d


Lady Guilford (ownership inscription)