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    Jane Austen's Emma signed by Maria Edgeworth. (click to enlarge)

    AN extremely rare first edition of Jane Austen’s Emma, signed by the Irish authoress Maria Edgeworth, made a hammer price with buyer’s premium of £79,250 at Sotheby’s in London on December 16.  It is the only known copy of Emma given by Jane Austen – Britain’s most beloved authoress – to a fellow writer.

    Emma was published in three volumes by John Murray on December 23, 1815.  This lot comprised volumes I and 3. No part of the manuscript for Emma survives and no presentation copy inscribed by Jane Austen herself is known to exist.  This copy has remained in Maria Edgeworth’s family ever since. The Irish writer is regarded as the creator, in Castle Rackrent, of the first true historical novel in English.
    At the same sale a first printing in England of James Joyce’s Ulysses, published in London by John Lane the Bodley Head in 1936, sold for £11,875.  This was number 89 of a limited edition of 1,000 copies.
    Sotheby’s English Literature and History and Childrens books and illustrations sale realised £821,813.  (see post for October 29)

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