Reading Austen in America presents a colorful, compelling account of how an appreciative audience for Austen's novels originated and developed in America, and how American readers contributed to the rise of Austen's international fame. Drawing on a range of sources that have never before come to light, Juliette Wells solves the long-standing bibliographical mystery of how and why the first Austen novel printed in America-the 1816 Philadelphia Emma-came to be. She reveals the responses of this book's varied readers and creates an extended portrait of one: Christian, Countess of Dalhousie, a Scotswoman living in British North America. Through original archival research, Wells establishes the significance to reception history of two transatlantic friendships: the first between ardent Austen enthusiasts in Boston and members of Austen's family in the nineteenth century, and the second between an Austen collector in Baltimore and an aspiring bibliographer in England in the twentieth.
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About the Author
Juliette Wells is the Elizabeth Conolly Todd Distinguished Professor of English at Goucher College, USA. An acclaimed speaker and writer for popular audiences, she is the author of Everybody's Jane: Austen in the Popular Imagination (Bloomsbury Academic, 2011) and the editor of Penguin Classics' 200th-anniversary deluxe annotated editions of Austen's Persuasion (2017) and Emma (2015).
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations
Part 1: The 1816 Philadelphia Emma and Its Readers
Chapter One The Origins of the First Austen Novel Printed in America
What did it mean to “reprint” Emma?
Who was “M. Carey,” and why did he choose Emma?
When in 1816 was Carey's Emma published, and how many copies were issued?
How did the Philadelphia Emma compare to the London edition, and why have so few copies of the American edition survived?
How did readers first become aware of Carey's Emma?
How did Americans first learn of Austen's authorship?
Chapter Two Tales of Three Copies: Books, Owners, and Readers
Lovers of books, if not of Austen: the du Pont sisters of Delaware
A careful and curious reader: Jeremiah Smith of New
Unimpressed by Emma: subscribers to a Rhode Island circulating
Chapter Three An Accomplished Scotswoman Reads Austen Abroad:
Christian, Countess of Dalhousie in British North America
Plants, drawing, reading, riddles: girlhood education
A literary marriage
Encounters with Austen's novels during a “transatlantic life”
Reading tastes and book acquisition
Part 2: Transatlantic Austen Conversations
Chapter Four Enthusiasts Connected Through the “Electric Telegraph of Genius”:
The Quincy Sisters of Boston and the Francis W. Austen family of Portsmouth
Recommended reading and fertile imaginations
Admirers, rewarded with a relic, envision a society of devotees
Two families meet during Anna's literary pilgrimage
Americans contribute to Austen's international fame
Chapter Five Collectors and Bibliographers:
Alberta H. Burke of Baltimore and David J. Gilson of Oxford
Unusual approaches to collecting Austen
Balancing erudition with enthusiasm
Appendix: Census of Surviving Copies of the 1816 Philadelphia Emma