First edition: Emma

Object name: Emma first edition

Object number: CHWJA:JAHB3.1-3

Category: Books

Description: First edition, Emma, 1816, in three volumes. Written by Jane Austen and published in 1816 by John Murray. Vol.1 Inscribed “George Augustus Frederic Dawkins July 1820” Volumes II and III inscribed “F.W. Austen”. The cover consists of leather spines and marbled paper pattern front.

Made: 1816

Context: Emma was Jane Austen’s fourth published novel, and the last to be published during her lifetime.

Jane Austen drafted the novel in 1814, in Chawton, around the same time that Mansfield Park was published. Once completed, it was submitted to her new publisher John Murray who offered £450 for it.  However, this large sum was also to include the copyrights of Mansfield Park and Sense & Sensibility. Jane refused, and arranged again to publish on commission, in a print run of 2,000 copies.

Emma appeared on the 23rd of December in 1815. The title page stated that the work was ‘By the Author of “Pride & Prejudice” &c. &c.’; it also included a dedication (by permission) to the Prince Regent. The public reaction was mixed, and the print run did not sell as well as expected; by February 1817 only around 1500 copies had sold and Jane had earned only £38.18, after the initial loss was deducted on the second edition of Mansfield Park.

Jane had twelve copies of the first edition give to family and friends. This is her brother Frank’s copy which he took to sea with him and read many times.

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