Rare First Edition of Jane Austen's Emma; bound in full morocco by Riviere and Sons and with the rare half-titles present

  • Emma: A Novel. By the Author of “Pride and Prejudice.”
  • Emma: A Novel. By the Author of "Pride and Prejudice."
  • Emma: A Novel. By the Author of "Pride and Prejudice."
  • Emma: A Novel. By the Author of "Pride and Prejudice."

Emma: A Novel. By the Author of “Pride and Prejudice.”

Item Number: 95099

London: John Murray, 1816.

First edition of the final novel published during Austen’s lifetime, with the rare half-titles present. Small octavo, 3 volumes, bound in full 20th century brown morocco by Riviere, gilt titles and tooling to the spine, raised bands, gilt ruled, inner dentelles, all edges gilt, marbled endpapers. With the half-titles, publisher’s advertisements on the verso of the last page of Vol. III, dedication to the Prince Regent to Vol. I. From the library of  C. E. Hay with his faint ownership signature to the half-titles; Eugene Grosman with his bookplate to the pastedown of Vol. I; and Steve and Peggy Fossett with their bookplate to each volume. In near fine condition with light toning. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. Exceptionally rare and desirable, particularly with the rare half-titles present which are most often lacking.

After many publishing delays, Austen decided to self-finance the publication of Emma, paying printer John Murray a 10% commission and retaining the remaining profits. "Emma was the fourth and last novel which Jane Austen published in her lifetime. When it was written the author was at the height of her powers, and she wrote the book rapidly and surely, encouraged by the success of her previous novels to express herself with confidence in the way peculiarly her own" (Rosenbach 29:24). "Jane Austen's fourth novel has a profundity similar to that of Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility, only more elusive since Emma's character is far more subtle than Elizabeth or Marianne's… Austen's self-knowledge, her love of detail… [helped her] to create a proud, self-willed, self-guided, vexing and outrageous Emma and her greatest novel" (Honan, Jane Austen, 356-364). The novel has been adapted into several films, televised programs, and plays including the 1996 period film of the same name starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Alan Cumming, Toni Collette, Ewan McGregor, and Jeremy Northam.