Tag Archives: Jane Austen

Celebrating Jane Austen at King’s Library

To mark the bicentenary year of Jane Austen’s death, King’s College Library and Archives are hosting an exhibition showcasing first and early editions of the author’s much-loved novels, alongside the autograph manuscript of her unfinished novel Sanditon and treasures highlighting the Austen family’s connection with the College. This two-day event, which is part of the Open Cambridge weekend, is a rare opportunity to take a look inside the College’s beautiful early nineteenth-century library designed by the architect William Wilkins.

If you would like to find out more about one of Britain’s most loved novelists, why not pop in when you are in town. This free exhibition is open to all and can be viewed on Friday 8 and Saturday 9 September between 10:30am and 4pm in King’s College Library.

The interior of King’s College Library

Upon arrival at the front gate of King’s College, tell the member of staff on duty (or the porters) that you are visiting the Jane Austen exhibition. They will direct you to the College Library (see map below).

How to find King’s College Library

Exhibition DATE: Friday 8 and Saturday 9 September 2017

Opening times: 10:30am-4pm each day

JC

Jane Austen Open Day: An Online Exhibition – Part 1

On 18 July 2017, the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, King’s College Library mounted an exhibition featuring first editions of all of Austen’s novels, the autograph manuscript of her unfinished novel Sanditon, a manuscript letter to her publisher, a book from her library, early translations of her novels, and other rare treasures. The event was a great success and was attended by over 1,000 people. We present below some highlights from the first part of the exhibition for those who could not visit in person.

Jane was born in Steventon parsonage in Hampshire, and lived the first 25 years of her life there. She drafted Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey in Steventon. She was so distraught when she was told the news in December 1800 that the family would be moving to Bath that she fainted.

J. E. Austen-Leigh, A Memoir of Jane Austen by her Nephew (London: Bentley, 1870), Gilson.B.96.AusJ.1870b

Sense and Sensibility, Austen’s first novel to be published, was written in epistolary form around 1795 in Steventon under the title Elinor and Marianne. It was begun in its present form in autumn 1797 and revised and prepared for publication in 1809-1811 when Jane was living in Chawton.

Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility (London: Egerton, 1811), First edition
Warren.A.Se.1811/1-3

Pride and Prejudice, originally titled First Impressions, was offered for publication to the London bookseller Thomas Cadell, but the offer was declined by return post. The novel was subsequently published by Thomas Egerton under the revised title Pride and Prejudice. Upon receiving her copy of the first edition from the publisher, Jane wrote: ‘I have got my darling child from London’ (27 Jan 1813).

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (London: Egerton, 1813), First edition
Warren.A.Pr.1813a/1-3

The Austen family lived in Bath between 1801 and 1806. Jane was familiar with the Pump Room, which is used as a setting in her novels Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. This image, from The New Bath Guide (1807), shows the Pump Room, a venue for fashionable people, as it would have looked during Jane Austen’s time there.

Christopher Anstey, The New Bath Guide; or, Memoirs
of the B.N.R.D. Family in a Series of Poetical Epistles (Bath, 1807)
Warren.B.97.New.1807

Austen’s novels Persuasion (written 1815-16) and Northanger Abbey (written 1798-99) both appeared posthumously in a four-volume set in December 1817, although the title page states 1818. They are prefaced by a ‘biographical notice’ written by Jane’s brother Henry Austen in which Jane’s identity is revealed for the first time. She appears to have intended to publish Persuasion in 1818 but did not live long enough to do so.

The beginning of chapter 3 of Persuasion mentions Bath and the Pump Room. Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion (London: Murray, 1818), First edition
Thackeray.J.57.12-15

In 1809 Austen’s brother Edward offered his mother and sisters a more settled life – the use of a large cottage in Chawton, near Alton in Hampshire. Whilst living in Chawton Jane published her first four novels. She also wrote Mansfield Park there between 1811 and 1813. It was first published by Egerton in 1814 and a second edition was published in 1816 by John Murray, still within Austen’s lifetime. It did not receive any critical attention when it first appeared.

Jane Austen, Mansfield Park (London: Egerton, 1814), First edition
Warren.A.Ma.1814/1-3

When Henry Austen was taken ill in London in October 1815, he was attended by his sister Jane and by one of the Prince Regent’s doctors who identified her as the author of Pride and Prejudice. The doctor reported that the Prince (later George IV) was a great admirer of her novels and she was invited to dedicate one of her future works to the Prince. Emma was the lucky work. Jane disapproved of the Prince’s treatment of his wife, but felt she couldn’t refuse, so she settled for a title page reading simply ‘Emma, Dedicated by Permission to HRH The Prince Regent’, though her publisher (John Murray) thought it ought to be more elaborate.

This copy of the first edition of Emma belonged to King’s Provost George Thackeray (1777–1850).

Jane Austen, Emma (London: Murray, 1816), First edition
Thackeray.J.57.9-11

Several months after the dedication of Emma, Jane wrote to John Murray and reported that the Prince had thanked her for the copy of Emma. In the same letter she notes that in a recent review of the novel, the anonymous reviewer (later established as Sir Walter Scott) completely fails to mention Mansfield Park, remarking with regret that ‘so clever a man as the reviewer of Emma, should consider it as unworthy of being noticed’.

Jane Austen’s letter to John Murray, 1 April 1816 (NM/Austen/1)

In his review of Emma, Sir Walter Scott fails to mention Mansfield Park:

The Quarterly Review, Vol. XIV (London: Murray, 1816)
Gilson.C.Gif.1816

Jane Austen was seemingly unaware that one of her novels was published in America during her lifetime. This is one of only four known copies of the first American edition of Emma. The rest of her novels were not published in the US until the early 1830s. As well as the expected differences in spelling and punctuation, the text has also been bowdlerized.

Jane Austen, Emma (Philadelphia: M. Carey, 1816), First US edition
Gilson.A.Em.1816b/1-2

Due to popular demand, an expanded version of this exhibition will be presented as part of the Open Cambridge weekend on 8 and 9 September 2017. So if you couldn’t make it this time, or would like to see the exhibition again, please put these dates in your diary! More details will follow here in due course.

IJ/Harriet Alder/JC

 

Jane Austen Open Day at King’s College Library

The 18 July 2017 marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen, and King’s College Library joins the commemorations with an exhibition showcasing rare first editions of all of her novels, the autograph manuscript of her unfinished novel Sanditon, a manuscript letter to her publisher, a book from her library, early translations of her novels, and other rare treasures.

If you would like to find out more about one of Britain’s most loved novelists, why not pop in when you are in town. This free exhibition is open to all and can be viewed only on Tuesday 18 July 2017 between 10am and 4pm, in King’s College’s beautiful early nineteenth-century library.

The interior of King’s College Library

Upon arrival at the front gate of King’s College, tell the member of staff on duty (or the porters) that you are visiting the Jane Austen exhibition. They will direct you to the College Library (see map below).

When you reach the Library, simply press the buzzer on the main door and one of the Library team will let you in and welcome you to the Library.

How to find King’s College Library

Exhibition DATE: 18 July 2017

Opening times: 10am-4pm

JC

HLF funding for King’s Library

King’s Library has received £44,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project, ‘Shakespeare and Austen at King’s College: Celebrating their Centenaries in 2016 and 2017’. The project will result in the online cataloguing and conservation of the English literature section of the Thackeray collection of rare books, bequeathed to King’s College Library in the mid-nineteenth century by the sometime Provost of the College, George Thackeray (1777-1850), cousin of the novelist William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863). A major part of the project is a comprehensive programme of outreach activities and online educational material.

by Richard James Lane, lithograph, 1851

George Thackeray (1777-1850) by Richard James Lane, lithograph, 1851

The project will enable local people and volunteers to engage with some of the most important books in the history of English literature through a series of exhibitions, talks, open days and workshops for young people, and give a worldwide audience the opportunity to learn about the collection online. Owing to the lack of a proper online catalogue, the collection has remained difficult to explore.

Shakespeare folio image

Title page of Shakespeare’s First Folio (1623)

Highlights in Thackeray’s library include Shakespeare’s First Folio, first and early editions of all of Austen’s novels, a collection of 16th-century books on theology (including works by Sir Thomas More, Martin Luther and Erasmus), and over one thousand volumes of early editions of the most important English authors in sumptuous historic bindings. Other major writers included are John Milton, John Donne, Edmund Spenser and Ben Jonson.

We are delighted to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, which will enable us to gain a much better understanding of the Thackeray collection and help us to improve access to these treasures. We are also looking forward to the many opportunities the project will afford us to allow local people to engage with their heritage (anyone interested in volunteering for the project is most welcome to get in touch), and hopefully revisit the works of Shakespeare and Austen during their anniversary years.

english_landscape_pantone

JC