Weekly Austen P&P News Round-Up

At the beginning of each week, I am going to attempt to do a basic round-up of any Pride and Prejudice news that has been floating around that I have missed/doesn’t constitute a full post.  I’m constantly being sent things from friends, so it only seems fair that I pass them on to you!

The “Austen wasn’t responsible for her work it was some un-credited other person” debate.

Reported in The Australian  last week by Jack Malvern, and sent to me by a university friend (thanks Christine!), this story admittedly got me a little prickly to start with. Someone else taking credit for Austen’s work?! Blasphemous!

But, truth be told, I was already fairly aware that Jane’s punctuation and spelling was twitchingly awful, and it doesn’t come as a great surprise that someone would have been needed to fix it.  In fact, I thought this was widely known (COME ON- she titled one of her pieces Love & Freindship for goodness sake).  (Especially given the lovely quote in the article, from an 1815 publishers letter- “Cannot you get the third novel thrown in, Pride and Prejudice? I have lately read it again – ’tis very good – wretchedly printed in some places, & so pointed [punctuated] as to be unintelligible.”) And, as this article opens it up to ask how much of an influence the editor had on the novel, I would hesitate to say that the influence is much.  Certainly, an editor does play a large role in making the novel publishable- but no different with Austen than with any other author.  Otherwise why would Jane, a Lady writing about “women’s things”, even be given the time of day if there wasn’t much genius there?

No, I think that’s just the angle the article is taking to get a few more hits.  Academically, the case is very interesting.  If only from a “Who dunnit” point of view (suggestion in this article: William Gifford, the grammar nazi who was also responsible for Lord Byron… FYI, no one is questioning the genius of Lord Byron). 

For some reason, all the papers are jumping on this bandwagon.  I see the same style article: “Bad speller: Austen’s books were heavily edited” from the SMH and from many other papers and media outlets from all over Australia, England, Ireland and basically the world. 

Jane Austen is still a literary agents DREAM.  Even if the writer of this article is suggesting that the editor has more to do with why we love her than Jane’s characters themselves (*rolls eyes*).  These stories have been used as a launching story to present the opening of the online site for Jane Austen’s Manuscripts (Pride and Prejudice is not included as we do not have the original in her hand).  I thoroughly suggest having a browse through as it is truly beautiful- and gives you a great insight into how she wrote.  I will definitely be writing a piece about this at a later stage, so stay tuned!  Also, if you want to see the other side of the story from a columnist at the Guardian try this piece “Attack on Jane Austen’s genius shows neither sense nor sensibility” from Jonathan Jones, who makes some fantastic points.

What do you think?  Has this “discovery” lowered Jane in your eyes?  Will you look at Pride and Prejudice in a different way?

First Edition Copy of Pride and Prejudice sold at auction

Reported only a few hours ago, by the Times of India, is the story “‘Pride and Prejudice’ fetches 140,000 pounds at Auction” for all us Aussies, that’s the equivalent of  $229,132 Australian.  Previously it was also reported by the Daily Mail, This story shows how far along the novel has come really (even when considering the change in value of money from the time of the original book).  It sold in London, at auction house Sotheby’s, for 139,250 pounds- which is quotes as “more than 150,000 times its original price” as it initally cost 18 shillings to buy or 90 pence.

It is the most a Pride and Prejudice first edition has ever sold for at auction (and surpassed expert guesstimates by about 40,000 pounds).  This is the sold edition:

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

The previous owner was an unnamed 75 year old.  Why anyone would sell it is beyond me.  I honestly can’t think of a single item I want more than this first-edition copy.  And, the anonymous character had quite a beautiful collection.  The article also states a few other items the collector had amassed (0ver a reported 45 years) that included a SIGNED first edition of A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens *sighs*), a first edition of Wuthering Heights (again, *sighs*) and some pretty old editions of Frankenstein, Shakespeare poems and The Origin Of The Species.  Selling these sorts of books must be like giving away children.  I had to speculate, but I can imagine that I would only sell them all if I was 1) dying or 2) desperate for money.  I cannot actually think of any other sort of scenario short of aliens holding me hostage and claiming they will blow up the earth if I don’t sell them.  And even then…

Also floating around in the recent news is that a first-edition copy of Emma is to hit the auction later this year.

But REALLY?!  Would you sell them? 


According to the Sydney Morning Herald’s Jane Sullivan, who recently wrote in an article called “The power of prose” detailing the books politicians like to read, Judith Graley (Labour member for Narre Warren South) said that while going through chemo she liked to read Pride and Prej: “My hair was falling out but I was transported to beautiful Pemberley.”

Feel free to send me through any interesting Jane Austen articles (with a Pride and Prejudice twist) that you find.  A lot of it gets sent to me via friends, or posted on my Facebook wall so feel free to get involved. There’s a link to The Bennet Sisters’ Facebook page on your right! Or you can check out my contact details and get to me that way.

1 Comment

Filed under A good find, Discussion, Weekly News

One response to “Weekly Austen P&P News Round-Up

  1. David Davies

    “Lost in Austen” was screened on ITV in 2008. In it a modern female character enters the world of “Pride and Prejudice” through a portal and mingles with the book’s characters. Interestingly, ten years before I had written a one act play entitled “Incident at Hunsford Parsonage” in which a young, post-modern millionaire enters the Regency world of the book to woo Elizabeth Bennet after she has rejected Mr Darcy’s proposal of marriage. The literary theory of ‘reader power’ carried, of course, to extremes allows the time-traveller, who has fallen for “Lizzie”, to enter her world and confront not only Mr Darcy but Jane Austen herself. All great fun. The play was broadcast on Radio Merseyside and later presented at the Southport Little Theatre. To date it remains unpublished.

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