The Lost Books of Jane Austen

The Lost Books of Jane Austen

4.57 (35 ratings by Goodreads)
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Hardcore bibliography meets Antiques Roadshow in an illustrated exploration of the role that cheap reprints played in Jane Austen's literary celebrity-and in changing the larger book world itself.

Gold Winner of the 2019 Foreword INDIES Award for History by FOREWORD Reviews

In the nineteenth century, inexpensive editions of Jane Austen's novels targeted to Britain's working classes were sold at railway stations, traded for soap wrappers, and awarded as school prizes. At just pennies a copy, these reprints were some of the earliest mass-market paperbacks, with Austen's beloved stories squeezed into tight columns on thin, cheap paper. Few of these hard-lived bargain books survive, yet they made a substantial difference to Austen's early readership. These were the books bought and read by ordinary people.

Packed with nearly 100 full-color photographs of dazzling, sometimes gaudy, sometimes tasteless covers, The Lost Books of Jane Austen is a unique history of these rare and forgotten Austen volumes. Such shoddy editions, Janine Barchas argues, were instrumental in bringing Austen's work and reputation before the general public. Only by examining them can we grasp the chaotic range of Austen's popular reach among working-class readers.

Informed by the author's years of unconventional book hunting, The Lost Books of Jane Austen will surprise even the most ardent Janeite with glimpses of scruffy survivors that challenge the prevailing story of the author's steady and genteel rise. Thoroughly innovative and occasionally irreverent, this book will appeal in equal measure to book historians, Austen fans, and scholars of literary celebrity.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 304 pages
  • 216 x 241 x 27mm | 1,179g
  • Baltimore, MD, United States
  • English
  • 96 Illustrations, color
  • 1421431599
  • 9781421431598
  • 660,865

Table of contents

Vignette I. Marianne & Gertrude
Introduction. Austen on the Cheap
Vignette II. Emma at the Seaside
Chapter 1. Paperback Fighter: Austen for the People
Vignette III. The Old Sea Captain & William Price
Chapter 2. Sense, Sensibility, and Soap: Lever Promotions in the 1890s
Vignette IV. Charlotte & a Real Castle
Chapter 3. Looking Divine: Wrapping Austen in the Religious
Vignette V. Young Heman's Summer in Paris
Chapter 4. Selling with Paintings: A Curious History of the Cheap Prestige Reprint
Vignette VI. Lady Isabella's Mansfield Park
Chapter 5. Pinking Jane Austen: The Turn to "Chick Lit"
Vignette VII. Annie's Prized Gift
Selected Works Cited
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Review quote

Barchas is indeed the ultimate Austen book hunter, and we are the grateful recipients of her obsession. * Austenprose - A Jane Austen Blog * Over the last 25 years, amid the releases of various screen adaptations imagining new lives for her novels, the critical conversation around Jane Austen has been much occupied with the diverse responses of her diverse reading communities: academic and popular, elite and fan-based. Janine Barchas's exuberantly illustrated study, The Lost Books of Jane Austen, rides this wave with panache. -- Kathryn Sutherland * New York Times * Janine Barchas leads her readers on a journey into the bibliographically uncharted land of unidentified reprints and cast-off mass-marketed paperbacks to discover who was reading Austen and when and why. As a study of packaging and design, it is lavishly illustrated, but that is a mere bonus to the author's brilliant thesis and erudite delivery. Even if Austen isn't your cup of tea, this volume will change the way you think about publishers and readers. It's a landmark in the scholarship of book history. -- Rebecca Rego Barry * Fine Books & Collections * For all the Janeites on your list, reach for The Lost Books of Jane Austen . . . it's a fascinating, richly illustrated study of what we can learn from the numerous popular editions of Austen's novels that appeared during the 19th and 20th centuries. -- Michael Dirda * The Washington Post * In addition to the vivid reproductions and Barchas' careful narrative of Austen's publishing history, The Lost Books of Jane Austen connects surviving cheap editions with their owners, and Barchas shares what she's found of their histories. It makes for an unexpectedly personal touch in this scholarly tome - one that makes you feel that any copy of Austen's work you have has value to history, and by extension, you do, too. -- Robert Faires * The Austin Chronicle * . . . a beautifully illustrated exploration, indeed compendium, of the popular editions of Austen's novels that have appeared over the last two centuries . . . The lesson of this delicious book is that [Jane Austen] was even more popular for even longer with an even greater variety of readers than we ever thought. -- John Mullan * The Guardian * The history of Austen's popularity is the subject of Janine Barchas's important and groundbreaking The Lost Books of Jane Austen. Barchas is a book historian, with access to an extraordinary private collection of Jane Austen editions. Drawing on far-ranging evidence, she examines popular books that did not make it into scholarly libraries. -- Paula Byrne * Times Literary Supplement * Compelling reading, both as social history and as literary detective work . . . [The Lost Books of Jane Austen] will delight Janeites and bibliophiles in equal measure. An outstanding addition to any book-lover's library. * Jane Austen's Regency World * It's not hard to find books on books, but like any self-reflective medium, it's harder to find preaching that carries beyond the chorus. Remarkably, The Lost Books of Jane Austen by Janine Barchas a University of Texas English professor and Austen scholar finds something fresh to say about the exhaustedly-mined author. It's a visual study of Austen's publishing history that, in many ways, provides a wider history of how early popular novels traveled across borders and class. -- Christopher Borrelli * Chicago Tribune * Barchas provides the deep historical substratum that underlies [Austen's] enduring popularity and marketability. -- Louis J. Kern * The Key Reporter * If you have any serious interest at all in Jane Austen, then YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK. -- Susannah Fullerton, President of the Jane Austen Society of Australia I laughed, I cried, I learned - I was wowed! -- Deborah Barnum * JASNA News * Barchas has written a superbly original book, a work of literary archaeology, and the icing on the cake is that it's a beautifully produced publication in its own right - filled with over a hundred colour photographs of various editions of Austen that are as gorgeous as the couture on show in Emma, the latest film version of one of her novels. -- Sean Sheehan * The Prisma * A beautiful, completely unexpected (to me) spectacularly illustrated, wonderfully researched book about publishing, Jane Austen, her readership (and its academic misapprehension), and more. The pages turn themselves and there's a WOW! on every page, often several of them in a paragraph. -- Jack Cella * The Book Beat * [A] powerful, beautifully timed and precisely sequenced book. -- Tony Voss * The Jane Austen Society of Australia *
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About Janine Barchas

Janine Barchas is the Louann and Larry Temple Centennial Professor of English Literature at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of Matters of Fact in Jane Austen: History, Location, and Celebrity and Graphic Design, Print Culture, and the Eighteenth-Century Novel. She is also the creator behind What Jane Saw (
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Rating details

35 ratings
4.57 out of 5 stars
5 63% (22)
4 31% (11)
3 6% (2)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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