First edition: Sense and Sensibility

Object name: Sense and Sensibility first edition

Object number: CHWJA:JAHB1.1-3

Category: Books

Description: First edition of Sense and Sensibility, 1811, in three volumes. Written by Jane Austen and published in 1811 by T. Egerton. Original boards, faded blue with white spines, without labels but stamped with volume numbers.

Made: 1811

Context: Jane Austen originally drafted Sense and Sensibility  in 1795 whilst living in Steventon, at which time it was called Elinor & Marianne. By some accounts it was first written as a novel-in-letters, but no evidence of this survives. Jane revised the text in Steventon in 1797-8, and again in Chawton in 1809-10.

Jane’s brother Henry agreed to become her informal literary agent and secured her a publisher, Thomas Egerton, who published the novel on commission (meaning that the author took the financial risk, rather than the publisher). Sense and Sensibility appeared at the end of October 1811. It was published anonymously; the title page simply stated that it was ‘By a Lady’. The first print run, which probably consisted of between 750-1000 copies, completely sold out within two years, making Jane a handsome profit of £140.

This first edition is in its original boards, which is rare. A purchaser would usually have the set rebound to match their library style.

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