"HER GREATEST NOVEL": LOVELY FIRST EDITION OF AUSTEN’S EMMA, UNCUT IN CONTEMPORARY THREE-QUARTER VELLUM
AUSTEN, Jane. Emma: A Novel. By the Author of "Pride and Prejudice." London: John Murray, 1816. Three volumes. Tall 12mo, contemporary three-quarter vellum, uncut. Housed in a custom full morocco clamshell box.
First edition of the last novel Austen published in her lifetime, her exquisitely comedic and unerringly insightful social satire—“artistry… as elaborate as any novelist has ever achieved,” a rare uncut copy with all half titles in contemporary three-quarter vellum and boards.
"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). With all rare half titles, often absent (Volume I half title bound at rear of volume). Vellum spines hand-labeled in ink. Gilson A8. Keynes 8. Bookplates of Mary Hunter of Hill Hall, where Edith Wharton visited while writing Custom of the Country and met Vita Sackville-West, Virginia Woolf's lover; Feodor Chaliapin, the Russian opera singer; and Edward Marsh, the editor of Georgian Poetry. Hunter probably met Wharton for the first time in Saint Malo. The Grand Hôtel de Thermes there was heavily frequented by European socialites like Hunter. Wharton, while condemning the hotel's "shrieking squalling Princesses, Duchesses, & prostitutes," nevertheless attempted to take advantage of the area's spa cures, said to alleviate respiratory distress. Early Swiss bookseller booklabels. Swiss private library labels and pencil notations. "Miss Austen" noted on title page in ink. Crossed out pencil owner notation, mathematical work, and pencil drawings on endpapers of Volume II. Early ink drawing of the back of a Regency lady and pencil works list on the half title of Volume III.
A bit of scattered soiling and embrowning to interior, light wear to bindings, and mild toning to spines. An exceptional copy, most rare uncut and in contemporary vellum.