Collection Statement

I first read Pride and Prejudice in 2014 as a high school junior and was, in short, underwhelmed; I didn’t get it. (Ironically enough, I was prejudiced against Pride and Prejudice.) Fast forward to two years later when, after rereading it, I decided that, yes, this was my new all-time favourite novel. Henceforth, my Austen-themed book collection became not so much a possibility as an inevitability.

Having established a firm foundation of interest in anything Austen, I began to attend book sales with the aim of starting a collection. As soon as I found myself in a bookstore or book sale, I would single-mindedly head to the Classics section and there, right at its beginning, I would almost always be greeted by Jane Austen. Aside from their merit, Austen’s novels are a book collector’s delight. They are universally loved, widely available, and eclectically published. You can buy a five-dollar mass market paperback of Pride and Prejudice, or you can buy a lavish thirty-five-dollar annotated edition of it complete with full-colour spreads. More than this, Austen’s novels appeal to both the amateur and the professional, the layperson and the academic. As such, any collection of Austen’s books, like mine, is almost guaranteed to be diverse in content as it is in design.

I find myself in the middle of the spectrum from academic to layperson: I love Austen for her literary acuity and narrative mastery—her pioneering of writing techniques, her fierce commentary about women in the Regency era—but I also relish the vibrancy of her characters, the smart humour of her dialogue. My book collection reflects these dual tendencies. In it, I have both Austen fiction and non-fiction, some of which appeals to the academic reader, some to the casual reader, and some to both.

One product of the aforementioned range of Austen’s appeal is how it becomes reflected in the aesthetic design of her novels. This is another aspect of Austen that makes her so well-suited as the subject of a book collection. I collect Austen because I love her stories; however, I also collect Austen because her books boast so many diverse and stunning designs. Some appeal to academics and as such advertise their multiple editors and introductions (e.g. the Penguin Classics editions). Others appeal to Austen fanatics, competing for the most collection-worthy book designs (e.g. special 200th anniversary editions).

Altogether, my collection stands as a physical manifestation of my love for Jane Austen, a way to carve out a physical space for my appreciation and celebration of her. My love of Austen is what prompted this book collection and I hope that in the future, that remains the core of this collection.

 


List of Titles in Exhibition

Case 1

  1. Austen, Jane. Persuasion. New York: Barnes & Noble, 2012.

  2. Austen, Jane. Persuasion. New York: Penguin Books, 2017.

  3. Tomalin, Claire. Jane Austen: A Life. London: Penguin Books, 1998.

  4. Austen, Jane. Love and Freindship and Other Early Works. London: The Women’s Press Ltd, 1978.

  5. Sherry, Norman. Jane Austen. New York: Arco, 1969.

  6. Todd, Janet. Jane Austen: Her Life, Her Times, Her Novels. London: Andre Deutsch, 2013.

 

Case 2

  1. Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. London: White’s Books, 2009.

  2. Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. New York: Barnes & Noble, 2015.

  3. Austen, Jane. Emma. London: Vintage Classics, 2014.

  4. Austen, Jane. Northanger Abbey. London: Vintage Classics, 2014.

  5. Mullan, John. What Matters in Jane Austen? New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2012.

  6. Adkins, Roy, and Leslie Adkins. Jane Austen’s England: Daily Life in the Georgian and Regency Periods. New York: Penguin Books, 2014.

 

Case 3

  1. Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. England: Penguin Books, 2015.

  2. Austen, Jane. Orgueil et Préjugés. Paris: Milady, 2015.

  3. Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. London: Vintage Classics, 2014.

  4. Austen, Jane. Persuasion. London: Vintage Classics, 2014.

  5. Austen, Jane. Mansfield Park. London: Vintage Classics, 2014.

  6. Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. Edited by Patricia Meyer Spacks. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010.

  7. Austen, Jane. Emma. Edited by Bharat Tandon. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012.

 

Case 4

  1. Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. New York: Penguin Books, 2012.

  2. Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. London: Vintage Classics, 2014.

  3. Austen, Jane. Persuasion. England: Penguin Books, 1965.

  4. Austen, Jane. Persuasion. Edited by Robert Morrison. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011.

  5. Austen, Jane. Persuasion. London: Avalon Press. 1946.

  6. Austen, Jane. Love and Freindship: And Other Youthful Writings. Edited by Christine Alexander. England: Penguin Books, 2015.

  7. Austen, Jane. Lady Susan/The Watsons/Sanditon. Edited by Margaret Drabble. London: Penguin Books, 1974.

 

Case 5

  1. Austen, Jane. Emma. New York: Penguin Books, 2011.

  2. Austen, Jane. Emma. New York: Reader’s Digest Association Inc, 1994.

  3. Birtwistle, Sue, and Susie Conklin. The Making of Pride and Prejudice. London: Penguin Books, 1995.

  4. Sullivan, Margaret. Jane Austen Cover to Cover. Philadelphia: Quirk Books, 2014.