Jane Austen’s first edition of ‘Emma’ sells for a staggering figure at auction

Published in 1815, ‘Emma’ was the last of Austen’s novels to be published during her lifetime, and has just sold for £375,000.

A rare first edition of Jane Austen’s Emma has sold for over half a million big ones, 654,275.33 AU dollars to be exact, making it the highest amount of any printed work by the novelist so far.

The copy of Emma will now go on public display for the first time at Chawton House in Hampshire after its American buyer who remains anonymous has insisted the first edition stay in the UK.

Credit: Will Dax/Solent News & Photo Agency

London rare book dealers Peter Harrington said it was the only presentation copy of an Austen novel with a written inscription known to exist.

The book is inscribed by the publisher rather than Austen herself and was presented to Ms. Sharp, who was a close friend of the authors. All three volumes hold Anne Sharp’s signature.

“The buyer of this unique copy of Austen’s Emma, who resides in the US, expressed his wish for the work to stay in England and asked if we could recommend a suitable institute or museum which would be happy to receive the book as a deposit.

“We immediately thought of Chawton House – given its connections to both Austen and her brother Edward, as Anne Sharp served as governess to his children.”

“She was part of the intimate circle among whom Jane circulated copies of her novels and recorded their responses. Jane took Anne’s reactions to her novels seriously, asking her to be ‘perfectly honest’ in her assessments, and noted her comments in her logbook.”

The book is due to go on display at Chawton House early next year. Once the home of Jane Austen’s brother, Edward, Chawton House is now a research institution specialising in women’s writing, which currently houses a unique collection of early women’s writing, spanning over 10,000 volumes.