Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Manydown Edition of Jane Austen's Works

Since December 16, 2014 is the 239th anniversary of the birth of author Jane Austen, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about finding her books at estate sales today.

(Happy Birthday, Miss Austen!)

I scoured the bookshelves at this particular estate sale, but I could only find one of the books in the Manydown edition of the works of Jane Austen.

The spine of the book told me which volume in the series I had found. 

Jane Austen
Vol. 11
Lady Susan
The Watson
Letters of Jane Austen 
Part One

I was interested to see that the spine contained a typographical error!  There should be an S at the end of "Watson."  (Sooner or later, typos happen to all of us.)

I opened the book carefully. It was edited by Reginald Brimley Johnson, and contains an introduction by William Lyon Phelps, PhD, of Yale University.  It's dated 1906.

Only 500 copies of the book were printed; mine is number 482.

I wondered what "Manydown Edition" meant.  Scholar Cinthia Garcia Soria notes that this was an American edition of a collection of Miss Austen's books (with different illustrations) originally published in England.  The American editions were published under place names relating to Jane Austen -- Chawton, Winchester, Manydown. (A man named Harris Bigg-Wither was the heir to Manydown Park; he once proposed to, and was at first accepted by, Jane Austen, but she thought better of it within a few hours and turned him down.)  

The frontspiece is a lovely color illustration of a peacock in front of Chawton Manor House.  

I assumed it was by the illustrators listed on the title page, C.E. and H.M Brock.  Charles and Henry Brock were brothers who were noted illustrators of Miss Austen's novels.

Charles and Henry Brock were brothers who were noted illustrators of Miss Austen's novels.  If you're familiar with Miss Austen's work, you may have seen the Brocks' illustrations.  Here's one from Emma:

About the peacock illustration, however, Soria says:

Volume 11 of this collection includes Lady SusanThe Watsons and some of the letters, and Volume 12 the rest of the letters (those that appeared in the Brabourne edition), but as Gilson comments, the illustrations included in these two additional volumes are not by the Brocks, but coloured reproductions of Ellen Hill's drawings (taken from her sister Constance's book, Jane Austen, Her Homes and Her Friends) as frontispieces and photographs of places related to Jane Austen.

So our peacock was drawn by Ellen Hill, rather than the Brocks.

If you have not read the unfinished works Lady Susan, The Watsons, or Jane Austen's letters, there's still time to add them to your Christmas gift list.  They're available from most of the larger online booksellers, in paperback and hardback.

You can look at a copy of Vol. 11 of The Novels and Letters of Jane Austen on Google Books, here:

Here's a link to Dr. Soria's article on the Brock brothers' illustrations of Jane Austen's novels:

And here's a link to my blog post about the Jane Austen House Museum in Chawton, near Winchester, in England:

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