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Jane Austen News – Issue 132

The Jane Austen News has a look at a first edition sale

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


Bookseller Wanted…In The Maldives!

Philip Blackwell, scion of the bookseller family is advertising a vacancy that might just be the dream job of any sun-loving bookworms. He is looking for a bookseller to work at what is possibly the world’s most remote bookshop, based in the luxury eco resort of Soneva Fushi in the Maldives.

The successful candidate will need to be happy to hold the job for at least three months, which doesn’t seem like too much of an ask as far as the Jane Austen News is concerned. Job responsibilities will include keeping “an entertaining and lively blog that captures the exhausting life of a desert island bookseller”, as well as selling books to A-list celebrities and their friends. Applicants should have “a passion for books, the ability to engage guests of all ages”, as they will need to be able to entertain children with storytelling and host creative writing courses for guests.“

The Maldives shop is a part of Philip Blackwell’s Ultimate Library business. After having trouble finding good reading material while on his holidays, Blackwell thought of creating library collections for resort hotels. To date, Blackwell’s Ultimate Library business has more than 250 library/bookshop projects around the world. For every hotel library supplied, the company also helps donate a reading and reference library to a local institution that can benefit those who live nearby.

Time to give your CV a dust off?


Jane Austen’s Laptop

This week at the Jane Austen News we came across an article which made us look afresh at our technology-driven world.

In the piece published on The Atlantic’s website, Laura Micciche put forward the idea that being driven by technology is no new phenomenon, and that actually, the equivalent of today’s craze for laptops in Austen’s time was that of the writing box.

Jane Austen’s Writing Box

Writing boxes, popular from the 17th century, provided the same pleasure as today’s laptops and custom word processors: to make the experience of writing pleasurable, whether any actual writing gets done.

Although writing’s mobility might seem a product of modern digital gadgetry, there’s nothing new about writing on the move. Digital tools are but the latest take on a long tradition of writing in transit.

We’ve not looked at the humble writing box this way before. Perhaps it just goes to show that every generation is tech hungry, and while our smartphones are the ultra modern now and causing some of us to long for the “good old days” of pen and paper, one day there will be future generations looking at our laptops and smartphones with the same sort of nostalgia  writing boxes inspire in us.


Finding 250 First Editions

If you give a film a title like The Bookshop then of course we’re going to want to go and see it. The Jane Austen News is a big fan of bookish things!

The Bookshop- A Synopsis

Based on a 1978 novella by Penelope Fitzgerald, “The Bookshop” tells the story of rambunctious widow Florence Green, who decides to open a bookstore in a provincial seaside town in Sussex, England in 1959. Florence faces local resistance right from the beginning, but when she starts stocking the scandalous “Lolita,” her quaint shop becomes both a hot spot and a cultural lightning rod.

So recently we were doing a little reading about the film and came across this factoid that we though you might enjoy reading about as much as we did: the film features 250 first-edition copies of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita!

It took us about a year to get all those books. It was really important for me to have details that really belonged to the moment of the film — from the food, to the landscapes, to, of course, the books.

Isabel Coixet, director

Quite a feat! Just imagine trying to track down that many first editions of Pride and Prejudice! Speaking of which…


A P&P First Edition Up For Auction

Bonham’s auctioneers will shortly be auctioning off a first edition of Pride and Prejudice, and the auction house is hoping that the book will sell for between £15,000 and £20,000.

It’s not often that first editions of Pride and Prejudice come up for sale. At least, not at this price. If you have a scout around for first editions then you’re likely to be looking at price tags around the £50,000 mark.

A bit of background on the first editions:

 

Pride and Prejudice was written between October 1796 and August 1797 when Jane Austen was not yet twenty-one. After an early rejection by the publisher Cadell, who had not even read it, Austen’s novel was finally bought by Egerton in 1812 for £110. It was published in late January 1813 in a small edition of approximately 1500 copies and sold for 18 shillings in boards. Volume I of the first edition was printed by Roworth and Volumes II and III by Sidney, and their imprints appear both on the versos of the half titles and at the end of the text of each volume In a letter to her sister Cassandra on 29 January 1813, Austen writes of receiving her copy of the newly publishing novel (her “own darling child”), and while acknowledging its few errors, she expresses her feelings toward its heroine as such: “I must confess that I think her as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print, & how I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like her at least, I do not know.”

We’ve been looking for the listing on Bonham’s website but, as the catalogue of the Fine Books and Manuscripts auction for the 28th of November 2018 (the auction in which the book will probably feature) will not be published until four weeks before the sale, we’ve been having a bit of trouble. Watch this space though!


Emma in Delhi

Fans of Emma might like to know about Mahesh Rao’s new novel, Polite Society.

Polite Society transposes Jane Austen’s Emma into modern day, high society Delhi. Rao explores the fault lines of urban India, while at the same time taking a lovingly humorous look at its foibles and charms, and, as with Austen’s Emma, money and marriage are key concepts in the novel.

Divided into three parts, the novel maps the lives of major and minor characters, diving in and out of the champagne-soaked evenings in the living rooms of Lutyens’ Delhi, the glittering mansions of south Delhi, the lavish soirees of south Bombay, salsa nights in rural Goa, an idyllic lakeside writer’s retreat in Italy, fading palaces of erstwhile Indian royalty, and a millionaires’ resort in St Tropez, among others.

Above all, her (Austen’s) novels are about money: the security it provides, the deceptions it facilitates, the fickleness it engenders. I could see that these themes of money, marriage and social mobility lent themselves especially well to a novel set among the elite circles of Delhi. There continues to exist a rigid hierarchy in this society, where behaviour is governed by a complex set of class and caste codes, and access to patronage or favour can often seem like the only route to success.

Maheseh Rao


Jane Austen Day with Charlotte

Jane Austen News is our weekly compilation of stories about or related to Austen. Here we will feature a variety of items, including craft tutorials, reviews, news stories, articles and photos from around the world. If you’d like to include your story, please contact us with a press release or summary, along with a link. You can also submit unique articles for publication in our Online Magazine.

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