In honour of Jane Austen’s 240th birthday today, Deborah Barnum of Jane Austen in Vermont has written a detailed history of the publication of Austen’s novel Emma, which was published on December 23, 1815. (Thank you, Deb!)
Please join us here for more guest posts on Emma later this month and then all through the winter. We’ll begin with Nora Bartlett’s piece on “Emma in the Snow” on December 23rd. I hope you’ll celebrate with us!
As part of Sarah Emsley’s upcoming three month-long celebration of Emma, “Emma in the Snow” beginning on December 23, 2015, I have written this post on its publishing history – an interesting tale gleaned from Austen’s Letters, Deirdre Le Faye’s Chronology, and other scholarly essays. Sarah will be re-blogging it, and we welcome your comments on either site. Emma was published in late December 1815, though the title page states 1816, and hence why there are celebrations both this year and next. I always have felt it appropriate that this book was published so close to Austen’s birthday on the 16th, and why I am posting this today, what would have been her 240th! And December brings to mind the very pivotal and humorous scene on Christmas Eve with Mr. Elton and Emma in the carriage – think snow – it shall be here soon…
View original post 7,582 more words
Pingback: The Publishing History of Jane Austen’s Emma | Jane Austen in Vermont
Great post- so very thorough! And another wonderful opportunity to go back to the letters …
Here’s a question that’s been puzzling me for some time: was the PR such a great admirer of JA’s books? He didn’t seem interested in being introduced to her – or rather in having her introduced to him. His thanks came three months after receiving the dedicated book, and we don’t know what he thought of it, or even if he read it at all.
I get the impression that the visit was contrived to give Revd Clarke the chance to meet and eventually correspond with her. It’s him that’s “entirely engaged in literature,” having read her novels and felt tempted to write about the pleasure they’d given him. “Silent when glad, affectionate tho’ shy” – is he using Beattie’s words to describe himself? “An English Clergyman, at least of the present day … no man’s Enemy but his own. Pray dear Madam think of these things … hope on my return to have the honour of seeing you again.” Is he hitting on her? There’s also the odd but intimate account of his mother’s burial, his insistence that she should write about a character modelled on him: “make all your friends send sketches to help you” – another pretext to keep in touch. Let’s not forget that he was an author himself, so he could have written his own autobiography. And then there’s the offer of his “cell” as a “sort of half-way house” when she comes to London – of course there’s a maid to make it all proper … Oh dear!
Maybe the court physician called in by the Austens told the Prince’s librarian that he’d met the author of S&S, P&P and MP, and together they figured out a way for her to visit Carlton House. Either of them, perhaps the doctor, must have sought HRH’s permission. “Is she pretty? How old is she? … h’m … not interested, but tell JSC he may show her around.” 🙂
“It is certainly not incumbent on you to dedicate your work now in the Press to His Royal Highness: but if you wish to do the Regent that honour either now or at some future period, I am happy to send you that permission.” It’s the Revd that handles everything …
Am I wrong? I may well be missing something …
LikeLiked by 1 person
Janeite Deb said:
No, you are not wrong – and an interesting question – I have always thought he was “hitting on her” as you say – the offer of his little cell with a maid servant always at hand has always cracked me up – And there is that sketch that has been thought to be Clarke’s drawing of her (I left that part out of the post – it is long enough as it is!) – but here is a link to it: http://www.jasna.org/persuasions/printed/number27/ray-clarke.pdf
We can’t know for sure how it all came about – whether the PR really read and admired her works or it was Clarke who had the interest. I do think Clarke was a name-dropper and perhaps why he pursued his contact with Austen – he could tell people he know “the Lady anonymous”! – and I do think he was enamored of her in his way – the fact he is _so_ like Mr. Collins is just too amazing really and that he didn’t see it moreso!
So, questions remain – I don’t know enough about the PR’s reading habits to conjecture – the delay in his reading it and Clarke getting back to JA about it may just have been that he was at Brighton or elsewhere and didn’t get the books right away… we do know that he kept the books and it is that copy that is still part of the Queen’s library.
Thanks for your interest!
LikeLiked by 2 people
Thank you so much, Deb, for your answer, as well as for the link. I didn’t know about the sketch – it might open interesting possibilities …
As to Mr Collins, JA must have laughed up her long sleeve: what was Lady Catherine, after all, compared to the Prince Regent? 🙂
LikeLiked by 1 person
Pingback: Emma in the Snow | Sarah Emsley