On the Block! ~ Sarah Burney’s Copy of ‘Pride & Prejudice’

Heritage Auction Galleries: 2011 April New York Signature Rare Books Auction #6053 ; Lot # 36518

Novelist Sarah Burney’s Copy of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

[Jane Austen]. Pride and Prejudice: A Novel. In Three Volumes. By the Author of “Sense and Sensibility.” London: Printed for T. Egerton, 1813.

First edition. Three twelvemo volumes (7 3/8 x 4 1/2 inches). [4], 307, [1, blank]; [4], 239, [1, blank]; [4], 323, [1, blank] pp. Half-titles present but that for the first volume is in facsimile. Most sheets watermarked 1808.

Contemporary half green roan over marbled boards, smooth spines with gilt rules and lettering, edges sprinkled red. Some rubbing to joints and extremities. Scattered foxing. A very good copy with a fine association.

Sarah Harriet Burney’s copy, with her signature on the title of all three volumes. English novelist Sarah Harriet Burney (1772-1884), half-sister of Fanny Burney, published five novels during her lifetime. Among her more famous works are Tales of Fancy and Geraldine Fauconberg. Her work was admired by Jane Austen who, in one of her letters, remarks that she is reading one of Sarah Burney’s novels for the third time. In turn, Sarah Harriet Burney received Jane Austen’s novels from her publisher, and was one of the earliest readers to publicly recognize her genius. Sarah Burney’s life has strong echoes of Jane Austen’s fiction, but with scandalous overtones. In 1798, she eloped with her half-brother Captain James Burney, 22 years her senior, settling eventually in lodgings in Tottenham Court Road, “living in the most groveling mean style.” In 1803 James went back to live with his wife. Sarah then took a job as a governess, wrote novels as a means of earning money to support herself, and eventually left England for Florence, where she mixed with a circle or artists and authors including Henry Crabb Robinson. She received great sympathy from her three remaining half-sisters, Esther, Fanny, and Charlotte, on the death of James Burney in 1821. In 1822 she gained the post of governess to the grandchildren of Lord Crewe, with her own house and a salary of 300 pounds a year. She spent the last years of her life in ill health at a boarding house in Bath. In 1840, on the death of Fanny D’Arblay, Henry Crabb Robinson wrote that she bequeathed Sarah “1,200 per annum for her life.” She continued to socialize with Robinson and his friends until her death at Cheltenham on February 8, 1844. Some of her property was left to her half-nephew, Martin Charles Burney, James Burney’s son.

Gilson A3. Grolier, 100 English, 69. Keynes, Austen, 3. Sadleir 62b. Tinker 204.

Estimate: $90,000 – up.  Starting bid is $45,000.

*Absentee bidding has opened and ends on April 6, 2011.
*Live auction on April 7, 2011.

[Image and text from the Heritage Galleries website]

Copyright @2011 by Deb Barnum, of Jane Austen in Vermont

3 thoughts on “On the Block! ~ Sarah Burney’s Copy of ‘Pride & Prejudice’

    • Indeed! – and how sad that Austen never saw this kind of money for her efforts – would be nice to think that whoever has the $$ to afford this might give a nice donation at the same time to the various Jane Austen houses: Chawton Cottage or Chawton House Library, for instance; or to the Societies: JAS or JASNA, etc… just a thought…
      Thanks for stopping by Ruth,


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