It was a book to which she had given the title ‘First Impressions’ in the late 1790s that proved the star turn.
This had been written when she was just 20, but was rejected by one publisher, Cadell, who it seems had not even read it, and did not appear until January 1813, when Thomas Egerton published it in London as Pride and Prejudice.
Writing to her sister Cassandra after receiving a copy of her “own darling child”, Jane expressed her feelings toward her heroine: “I must confess that I think her as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print, & how I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like her at least, I do not know.”
In a 20th century red morocco gilt binding by Sawyer, this copy topped the bidding in the Hindman (26/20/15% buyer’s premium) auction at $85,000 (£68,000).
Sense of satisfaction
Originally intended to appear as ‘Elinor and Marianne’, the epistolatory novel by Austen we now know as Sense and Sensibility had been revised several times over a period of 14 years before it finally appeared in print in October 1811, Egerton having agreed to publish it on a commission basis.
Only a thousand copies, perhaps fewer, were printed, but a couple of years later Jane wrote to her brother, Francis, telling him: “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.”
Again in a later red morocco gilt binding by Sawyer, it found a buyer at $65,000 (£52,000).